Is laughter really the best medicine?

There's some truth to the saying – laughter really is good for you.

Laughing feels good, and it benefits our wellbeing in more ways than one.

This is true whether you’re at a comedy festival, hanging out with friends, or practising ‘laughter therapy’. Did you know that the body is unable to pinpoint the difference between fake and genuine laughter? That means you can actually trick your body into experiencing the benefits of laughter, no matter how you’re feeling.

Most laughing therapists will begin their sessions with participants placing one hand on their stomach while letting out a gradual “huh huh huh”. This is repeated a second time with more vigour – “HA HA HA” – and so on. The body is forced into a laughing posture, triggering a release of endorphins. Before long, a room full of people fake laughing becomes so ridiculous that the laughter becomes genuine.

Here are just a few possible benefits of getting your chuckle on.

“The act of laughter increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in our brain, which helps reduce cortisol, our stress hormone.”

Laughter reduces stress

Feeling stressed? There’s a cure for that. The act of laughter increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in our brain, which helps reduce cortisol, our stress hormone. To fend off unwelcome stress, add a weekly or monthly comedy night to your diary. Watch a funny movie, visit a comedy show or slow down and observe the humour in everyday life – whatever tickles your fancy.

Laughter forms bonds

There’s nothing like a good gag to break the ice. Laughter and humour are instant barrier breakers and are important components in forming and fostering relationships. A study by Alan Gray of University College found that people who had a good laugh together shared significantly more intimate information than those who didn’t. Gray suggests this is not merely because it’s a positive experience, but because laughter releases endorphins which encourage people to make more intimate disclosures to strangers.

Laughter keeps you young

There is a secret to natural anti-aging: laughter. And the best part? It’s free. A study done by Loma Linda University in California found that high stress levels in older people can cause damage to neurons in the brain, affecting memory and the ability to learn new things. For a laugh, join a laughing yoga class or workshop to get the endorphins flowing.

Diary dates to laugh about

With the comedy festival season upon us, invite a friend or loved one along to share a laugh at one of the many comedy acts on offer.

Recommended reading - Your guide to working out

Advice

6 strength exercises for runners

Simple conditioning moves that should be part of any runner’s training routine.

Read more
Community

5 ways to mix up your training

Revamp and turbocharge your workout by adding a little variety.

Read more
Community

7 unconventional fun runs

These unique fitness events put a twist in the running experience.

Read more
Advice

4 tempo-based running apps

Sync your music to your pace with these clever apps.

Read more
Community

Top 5 running tips from elite Australian runner Liam Adams

Australian runner and exercise scientist Liam Adams is training for his first marathon this year.

Read more
Lifestyle

10 fitness and wellbeing podcasts to get you inspired

Supercharge your motivation, learn something new, and be entertained with uplifting health podcasts.

Read more
Lifestyle

High intensity interval training: The fast track to fitness results

Here’s how to use HIIT to improve your fitness, strength and fat burning in just 30 minutes.

Read more
Lifestyle

4 ways to prevent running injuries

Look after your body while you run. Here's how to lower your chances of getting injured.

Read more
Advice

Nine tips for bouncing back after exercise

Exercise can hurt, not just during a session but also for several days afterwards.

Read more
Lifestyle

Your quick-start guide to running training

Whether you're gearing up for a marathon or your first 5 km, prepare your mind, body and wardrobe.

Read more
Community

Tips for training success

Olympic triathlete Brendan Sexton on how to reach your potential as an athlete.

Read more
Community

What I learned from marathon training

From training plans to race day, dietitian Daniel Thomson discusses his marathon challenge.

Read more
Community

Why Orangetheory Fitness is the new workout you have to try

Discover Orangetheory Fitness, an extensive workout that will push you to your limits.

Read more
Community

5 reasons to run in the morning

Understand how running in the morning can change your life, and why you should start now.

Read more
Lifestyle

7 easy ways to get active in winter

Take a look at a list of activities to keep your heart racing during the dreary winter months

Read more
Experts

Having your cake and eating it too

How to let go of guilt and enjoy good food – the healthy way.

Read more
Lifestyle

How to work out together, apart

5 ways Fitbit will help you stay connected with your partner while running solo.

Read more
Community

On track to better health

A new online tool pools info on nutrition and exercise for healthy living and cancer prevention

Read more
Community

Work, drive and train with Paul Dumbrell

CEO Paul Dumbrell reveals how he learnt to balance business, exercise and professional motor racing.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.