National Humor Month: Laughter Is the Best Medicine

April is National Humor Month, opens a new window. The holiday was founded in 1976 by author Larry Wilde, opens a new window, who wanted to spread awareness of the therapeutic value of laughter.

According to a 2015 Mayo Clinic Health Letter,, opens a new window  there's research to suggest that laughter can:

  • Provide the benefits of a miniworkout: Heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and calories burned all increase when laughing.
  • Reduce stress: Laughter can reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone produced when we are stressed. Scientists have also found that finding the humor in stressful situations, may increase an individual's ability to cope with negative situations.
  • Reduce pain: Humans produce endorphins, hormones that naturally provide pain relief, when we laugh.

And that's just some of the findings that support the importance of laughter. This Mental Floss, opens a new window article provides a great overview of some of the additional health benefits of laughter. In a 2009 article, William Strean, opens a new window suggests that "along with eating your vegetables and getting enough sleep, laughter is a sound prescription as a wonderful way to enhance health."

To get you started on your humorous health kick, try one of these anthologies to help you find the right author to tickle your funny bone:

The 50 Funniest American Writers, opens a new window

NPR Laughter Therapy, opens a new window

Fierce Pajamas, opens a new window