When’s the last time you laughed out loud? Laughter is a powerful health resource. It improves your mental, emotional, and physical health. It wipes away stress, decreases blood pressure, burns calories, alleviates pain, connects us to others, reinvigorates us with hope, helps ward off germs … (the list goes on) – and feels so good. Your first laugh usually occurs when you are about 3 to 4 months old. Laughter is contagious. When you hear laughter, it triggers an area in your brain that is involved in moving the muscles in your face, almost like a reflex.

Studies show a strong, positive bond is created when you laugh with someone. In relationships, it enhances closeness and partner supportiveness. Laughter can help you lose weight by exercising several muscles including your diaphragm, abdomen, and shoulders. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that 15 minutes of genuine laughter burns up to 40 calories. Blood circulation is increased for all major body organs including the brain. Laughter even provides exercise for the heart.  Increased blood circulation stimulates facial muscles which can help you look younger.

When you laugh, stress hormone levels are reduced and levels of healthy hormones are increased.  The body’s immune system improves with the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-killers that can reduce pain and boost your mood. Medical experts use laughter therapy in cancer care and with other chronic illnesses.

Want to know how to laugh more? Commit to laughing every day. Since laughter is contagious, spend time with children who naturally laugh more often than adults. Treat yourself to funny diversions such as a funny book, video, or TV show. Seek out funny people, do something silly and find ways to find humor in challenging situations.  Before you know it, you’ll look, feel and act younger and enjoy life more too.