A Roar of Laughter: Good for Your Health?

(By Ami Vitale -- Getty Images)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This is the lion laugh. And these participants in the International Laughter Yoga Conference in India may look a whole lot less silly if some of the conjecture tying laughter to improved health proves true.

Laughter increases circulation, exercises the lungs, oxygenates blood, works abdominal muscles and lowers stress hormones, according to Lenny Dave, president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor based in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

But proving that "laughter is the best medicine" is challenging, Dave says, because studies showing a therapeutic effect have been difficult to replicate. And if participants anticipate being encouraged to laugh, they may release endorphins (mood-elevating hormones) before the study begins, making it hard to link the presence of the chemicals to laughter.

-- Kathleen Hom

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