Laugh Your Way to Health

By: Dr. Roger Landry, MD, MPH

When author, political journalist and world peace advocate, Norman Cousins, learned that he had a degenerative spinal disease, he did what no one would have expected … he laughed. Armed with Marx Brothers movies and reruns of Candid Camera, he immediately noticed that within ten minutes of laughing, his pain went away. As a result, he kept laughing, and subsequently laughed himself into remission for 30 long years. 

We now understand that laughter reduces stress hormones, which are known to suppress immunity. Conversely, laughter activates T cells, immunoglobulins, and natural killer cells, which collectively play a role in rejecting tumors and cells infected with viruses, as well as protecting us from infection. Laughter also increases beta-endorphins, which improve mood, reduce pain, and increase relaxation – all while giving your internal muscles a workout. The bottom line? Laugh more; it’s good for your health! 

Three Ways to Laugh More… 

1. Find movies, comedy shows and TV programs that make you laugh out loud (like Norman Cousins did). 

2. Seek out activities with friends that provoke laughter: karaoke, comedy clubs, games, amusement parks – whatever brings out the kid in you. 

3. Make a mental note every time you laugh: “I’m getting healthier. I’m going to do more of this.” (This is also a great reminder anytime you exercise or do something good for your body and soul.)