Physiological Changes Associated with Laughter
Laughter has physiological effects; it changes body chemistry and brain function.
- Laughter increases heart and respiratory rates as well as oxygen consumption over a short period. After these initial changes, a person moves into a state of relaxation. While these effects may not be the equivalent to aerobic exercise, as some claim, that is not to say it is entirely without benefit as a physical activity. 10-15 minutes of laughter per day may burn 10-40 extra calories.
- Laughter affects heart function. It increases stroke volume and cardiac output, and it dilates blood vessels.
- After intense laughter, muscle tone
- Watching humorous videos revs up the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). However, this does not increase blood pressure.
- Laughter lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
- Laughter activates the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system in the brain.
- Laughter increases serum immunoglobulins A and E. In most studies, it seems to increase natural killer cell activity as well.
- It raises levels of beta-endorphins (the feel-good chemicals of the body) and increases human growth hormone