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Laughter: it's good for you

laugh; laughter; happiness; fun; muscles; serotonin; smile; jokes;


What is laughter?

laughterAccording to the dictionary, laughter is "the sounds and movements that our bodies make when we find something funny".

Some people laugh loudly and throw themselves around.

Some people laugh quietly and may even cover their mouths with their hands.

We may laugh in different ways but one thing is the same - when one person laughs, others hear and want to know what is happening so they can join in.


Laughter is a happy sound - it is something we can all share and understand, whatever language we speak or place we come from.

Laughter is a really important part of our lives.

There are lots of ways of describing laughter. Here are some of them.

  • We laugh, chortle, chuckle, snigger, giggle, gurgle and snort.
  • We collapse, explode, hoot, are overcome, double up and are helpless with laughter.

Can you think of any other ways to describe laughter? If you can, send them in to us using the feedback button and we'll add them to our list.

What happens when you laugh?

Four things happen when we laugh.

1. We make sounds

laughterHow much sound we make can depend on two things:

  • how funny is it, and
  • where you are.

Have you noticed that about yourself? If you are home or with friends, you can really let yourself go - the louder one person laughs, the louder everyone else gets too.

Somewhere else, where you don't feel as comfortable, you may not laugh so loudly or even try not to laugh in case someone else is offended - like in the classroom, in church or somewhere where you don't want anyone to notice you or feel offended by your laughter.

2. Our breathing changes and we get a bit breathless

The more you laugh, the harder it is to breathe normally. People can be gasping for breath when they are having a really good laugh. This is because the epiglottis half closes the larynx when we laugh, so the air can't get in or out of the body as well as it usually can.

3. Our faces change

Muscles are responsible for any movement of our bodies. When we laugh we use around 15 of the muscles in our faces. For example, the zygomatic (say z-eye-go-mat-ik) major muscle works to lift up our top lip in a smile. We show our teeth, widen our mouths, our eyes crinkle up and we may even make tears if we really get the giggles.

4. Our bodies move

laughterLaughing seems to make our bodies move, whether we want them to or not!

Our heads may go back, legs lift, arms wave and bodies shake. Everyone around can tell when someone is having a good laugh.

 5. Our body and mind relax

Having a good laugh relaxes the mind and body. It can help us to be able to cope with worries and pain and give us the resilience to try again if we don't succeed at first.

Why do we laugh?

Well, on average, human beings laugh about 17 times a day - that means we really like laughing! So what makes us laugh?

We laugh:

  • at the end of a story or joke
  • when we see something unusual or ridiculous
  • when we feel a bit nervous
  • to release tension, like when something has been really scary and now it's over
  • to get out of trouble - sometimes people smile or make a funny remark if they feel threatened
  • to join in with others who are laughing
  • cartoons make me laughwhen someone does something really stupid
  • at ourselves when we make a mistake
  • when something unexpected happens
  • sometimes even when we hurt ourselves or others are hurt
  • when we watch or listen to 'funny' people.

Why laughter is good for your health

  • Laughter releases a chemical called serotonin (say sera-tow-nin) into our brains. This is often called the 'feel good' hormone because that is the effect it has on our feelings.
  • Laughter is a way we can be a part of a group and it can make us feel more comfortable with others.
  • Laughter stops us feeling stressed and leads to our bodies working better and feeling relaxed.
  • Researchers have found that laughter can also help our immune system work better, and this means that we can fight diseases better.

What makes kids laugh?

Some kids did a survey on what made the people in their class laugh. These are some of the things that they found out.

  • "My little brother makes me laugh because he does such funny things - he's only a baby."
  • laughter"Knock knock jokes."
  • "Watching funny movies."
  • "My friend because he is really funny."
  • "My favourite comedians."
  • "Hanging out with my friends because we have fun together and laugh a lot."
  • "Watching home movies, especially when mum and dad look so funny with their hairstyles and the clothes they had when they were young."

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim
Have you heard the saying, 'Laughter is the best medicine'?

Well it often is! Even really sick people can feel better after a good laugh. So, have fun in your life and laugh. It's good for you.

 Learning to laugh at yourself when you do something silly helps you to become a stronger person. Laughing at others in an unkind way is not a good way to make or keep friends.

Kids' favourite jokes

Did you hear about the doctor who had a patient who thought that she was invisible?
What did the doctor say?
"Next patient please."

Or this one?
Patient: "Doctor, I think I am a dog."
Doctor: "How long have you thought that you are a dog?"
Patient: "Ever since I was a pup."

Patient: "Doctor, I like string vests."
Doctor: "That's nothing to worry about, I like string vests too."
Patient: "Really? Boiled or fried?"

"Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9."

Apple 1: "What is eating you?"
Apple 2: "Worms I think."

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Stan who?
Stan back I'm going to sneeze!

What's your favourite knock, knock or Doctor, Doctor joke?
If you have one, send it in using the feedback button, and maybe it will be put into this topic so that others can share the laughter.


Need a laugh?

Why not have a 'gurning' competition with your friends. 'Gurning' is making funny faces.

Or see who can make the funniest sounding laugh.

You might even get a competition going in your class or even the whole school!

It could be a good fund raiser for your school or favourite charity, and a whole lot of laughs too.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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