Skip navigation


The health benefits of laughter

3 May 2018

6th May is World Laughter Day. It was first started in India in 1998 by Dr Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement, and now takes place all around the world. We’d like to take this opportunity to share the many health benefits of laughter.

Having a good laugh feels good. It lifts your mood instantly. That’s because when you laugh, the reward centre of your brain lights up and releases natural, feel-good chemicals including dopamine and endorphins. The best part is that laughter not only feels good, it’s also good for you.

Health benefits of laughter

Studies show that when you laugh, your heart beats faster and the inner lining of your blood vessels dilate. This helps increase blood flow and sends more oxygen to the rest of your body. Research shows that laughing is a powerful remedy for stress, too. Since laughing reduces stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, it helps ease feelings of depression and anxiety.  And if you’re looking for a natural pain reliever, try laughing. The release of endorphins that happens when you laugh may help you deal with pain better. 

In addition, some studies have found that laughter may help the immune system by boosting infection-fighting antibodies. Researchers have also found that laughing raises your heart rate 10 to 20 percent which helps burn calories.  Just think, if you giggle for 15 minutes every day, you could laugh off almost 2 kg in a year. So, laugh more and stress less.

Secrets to smiling more inside and out

So what can you do to smile more each day?  Many lifestyle behaviours can increase happiness like exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and engaging in meaningful work.  Beyond these lifestyle habits, you can practice five specific behaviours to boost your happiness.

  1. Express gratitude on a regular basis.  You’ll be surprised by how your outlook shifts when you take time to be grateful for even small positive things that come your way.
  2. See life through an optimistic lens. Positive thinking creates positive emotions – all of which makes you feel happier and more energised.
  3. Engage in frequent acts of kindness. Simply put, it feels good to be good to other people.
  4. Focus your full attention on joyful events. This way you can savour and appreciate every moment.
  5. Practice forgiveness. Letting go of negative emotions and forgiving others makes you feel peaceful and happier.



Source: Based on information from WebMD, 30 January 2018; 13 November 2017; and 13 August 2015. This material is provided for informational/educational purposes only.  It is not intended as medical/clinical advice.

All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation.  The Cigna name, logo and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. © 2018 Cigna