Why is it important to laugh every day, not just on April 1st?

Today, April 1, is April Fool's Day in many countries. On this day, it is customary to play pranks on friends and acquaintances, make fun of colleagues and family, and, of course, just laugh. It turns out that it's not only fun, but also healthy. Scientists have proven that laughter reduces the level of cortisol, the main stress hormone, and makes our life a little easier and more enjoyable.

Laughter reduces stress levels - scientists 3275

Laughter prolongs life, laughter is good for health. We hear such statements quite often, but what exact mechanisms are behind them usually remains a mystery. Scientists decided to lift the curtain a little and conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies to evaluate the effects of spontaneous laughter on stress, as measured by cortisol levels.

Intervention studies were selected that were either randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-experimental studies. These studies compared any spontaneous laughter intervention with a controlled setting and reported changes in cortisol levels.

Eight studies (315 participants, mean age 38.6 years) met inclusion criteria; four were RCTs and four were quasi-experimental studies. Pooling the data showed a significant reduction in cortisol levels (31.9%) caused by the laughter intervention compared to the control group. Sensitivity analysis showed that even one session of laughter caused a significant reduction in cortisol levels by 36.7%. In addition, analyzes including four RCTs confirmed these results, demonstrating a significant reduction in cortisol levels induced by laughter compared with the placebo group.

Scientists concluded that spontaneous laughter is associated with a greater reduction in cortisol levels compared to normal activities, suggesting that laughter is a potential complementary medical therapy for improving well-being.