How Laughter Heals

When you start laughing, your chemistry and physiology changes, and your chances to experience happiness are much greater. Laughter Yoga is nothing more than prepping the body and mind for happiness. HomeWell Senior care put Laughter Yoga to the test with residents at the Wynwood Senior Living at Florham Park.

One of the well-known researchers in happiness and laughter is William Fry, a psychiatrist at Stanford University. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Fry documented some of the health benefits of what he calls “mirthful laughter.” In a series of studies, Fry and his colleagues found that laughter increases circulation, stimulates the immune system, exercises the muscles, and even invigorates the brain. Other researchers have found that laughter reduces stress hormones and may even help prevent heart disease.

But can fake laughter—laughter devoid of humor, laughter that’s forced rather than spontaneous—have the same beneficial effects? Fry believes that aside from the mental stimulation that comes in the moment of discovery when you hear a good joke or appreciate a pun, the effects should be largely the same. “I think it’s definitely beneficial,” said Fry, who had heard about but hadn’t experienced Laughter Yoga. “I’m very much in favor of this program.”