How many times a day do you laugh? If it’s not at least once, you are missing out on one of the easiest (and most fun) ways to health and vitality. It turns out that a good belly laugh has several healthy benefits:

It tightens and tones. Laughing works the muscles in your face, shoulders and abs. Your heart rate increases and you breathe more deeply which supplies more oxygen to your blood. A long, robust laugh can burn as many calories per hour as brisk walking. In essence, laughing is a mini workout!

It’s a pain-free face lift. Due to the above benefits, you look more youthful. Your cheeks become rosy and your face looks more toned.

It’s cheaper than aspirin. Researchers have found that laughing causes the body to release hormones which help to both reduce pain and decrease sensitivity to pain.

It’s a great stress-buster. In numerous studies laughter has been shown to effectively reduce stress. While laughing, neurotransmitters are released which cause a sense of euphoria and a release of tension and anxiety.

It’s safer than a flu shot. Research has also demonstrated that laughing increases the amount of antibodies in saliva. This means that a good laugh boosts your immune system. In fact, those who regularly use humor as a way to cope with stress show consistently higher levels of these antibodies.

The most positive effects are seen when you laugh daily. If you’re not used to accessing your humorous side, try renting a funny movie or browsing the humor section of the library. Even forcing yourself to smile causes your brain to begin releasing neurochemicals that lift your mood. Why not give it a try?

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