Laughter as a therapy
Feature Articles

Laughter as a therapy

March 11, 2017

By Dr. K.B. Chinnappa Retired Professor of Physical, Education, Bangalore University

Among the entire animal- kingdom, it is only the human-beings who have the ability to laugh.

Laughter comes from the heart but shows on the face as smile. Smile has dual role to play in the society. It acts as passport to friendship (smile wins smiles) and acts as a therapy (sound mind in a sound body).

There are various types of laughter

Smile forms the features into a friendly and amused expression with the corners of the mouth turned up. As many as seventeen small facial muscles contract and squeeze the face into smile, increasing the blood flow, to turn the face to a smile, with the cheeks turning rosy to give the face a happy glow.

Sense of humour is an invaluable possession. It is the secret of longevity, cure for tension and remedy for stress. It is a form of non-verbal communication, breaks down the barriers between people increasing the feeling of oneness, thus augmenting glandular secretion bringing blush to the skin and sparkle to the eyes.

Chuckle laugh is a quiet and inward laugh. It has the effect on weight reduction. Chucklers are usually kind but introspective.

Giggle laugh is a nervous laugh, a merry heart doeth good-like medicine. Gigglers burn a few calories. It is thought that gigglers are flirtatious.

Tickle-pink laugh is most primal form of laughter touching the most sensitive areas under the ribs, under the arms, below the neck. The touch gives favourable itching or twitching sensation and generates laughter. The Simian version of tickle laughter is ‘pant-pant’ belly laugh, hearty laugh, vigorous laugh or mouth off laugh, guffaw. It is a loud and unrestricted laugh. It involves all the major muscle-groups for minutes at a time.

It takes ten minutes on treadmill or rowing machine to elevate the heart-rate to the same level, provided by a good belly laugh.

If the laugh is vigorous enough for our tear-ducts to activate sometimes, our glee can have a cumulative effect till we are literally crying. Joy-tears whether happy or sad may reduce the symptoms of stress.

Mouth opens to let out those Ha…. Ha…. Ha…. rhythmic blasts of vocalised air. Saliva of patients after laughing episodes found that saliva have higher levels of disease-fighting agents called immunoglobulins and also higher blood vessels of killer T-Cells are found, suggesting that laughter raises our immune functions.

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A hearty guffaw is quite a workout for the system requiring as much effort and volume as yelling, because the lungs are exchanging much more air than the normal thus enriching the blood with more and more oxygen.

Psychiatrist Dr. William Fry, in his book ‘Humour and Aging’ stated that, it is estimated that the impact on the heart of a 20 secs of hearty laughter is comparable to three minutes of rowing, 20 minutes of rope skipping, which is supposed to be the best aerobic exercise for reconditioning the entire body and promotes longevity.

Hearty laugh enjoys most of the benefits attributed to physical exercises. According to Dr. Robert, a hearty laugh raises the pulse rate and amplifies respiration, thus leading to increased oxygen intake in all cells. We inhale larger quantities of oxygen which circulates more freely through blood to every part of the body.

Laughter could be a very important exercise for the elderly and sick people who cannot go out and walk three-kilometre.

Psychologist Sigmund Freud in his book “Wit and Its Relationship to Unconscious Mind” observed that humour and laughter helped individuals defend against subconscious fear and worries, anger and other disturbing emotions which are the cause for all types of psycho-somatic disorders.

Several psychologists are now using humour and laughter as a weapon to combat insomnia, neurosis, nervous breakdown, etc.

It is significant that our own yoga system of exercise too lays emphasis on a cheerful countenance and laughter and the effect was same as the athletic exercises.

Rehabilitation hospitals in New York have introduced laughter rooms, where the patients along with the members of the family and staff can relax with a joke book, numerous anecdotes or a comedy movie. The recovery rate being phenomenal.

Women laugh almost twice as much listening to men, as men do listening to women.

‘Laugh and grow fat’ is a usual saying. That may not mean that more the laughter more the fat, to make the body ‘Apple-shaped’ or a round body. Then the universal truth, ‘sound mind in a sound body’ has to be re-coined as ‘sound sleep in a round body.’ Of course, the sound for others and sleep for self.

Psychotherapists advice ‘do not take life seriously, laugh for 15 minutes daily and have very few medical bills.’

READ ALSO  Music and Laughter


Just laugh it off.. to good health…

Young man: Thank you, Doctor, thank you very much.

Doctor: Welcome. Were you my patient?

Young man: No, No, Doctor, not me. My uncle, who died here was. I am his heir.


Doctor: Madam, your husband needs total rest and absolute calmness. Here are the sleeping tablets.

Woman: When shall I give it to him.

Doctor: No, no, not for him. They are for you.


Friend 1: Why are you looking so dejected and worried?

Friend 2: What to tell. I gave my friend who met with an accident Rs. 15,000 for the plastic surgery of his face. Now I don’t know how he looks like!


Friend 1: I am responsible for making my father a millionaire.

Friend 2: Oh. Wonderful. One should have a son like you. By the way what was your father earlier.

Friend 1: A multimillionaire.


Father (Utterly off mood): Son, I regret marrying your mother. My sincere advice to you is not to marry.

Son: OK. Dad I will sincerely pass on your advice to my son.


Friend 1: Is that luxury-car yours?

Friend 2: Hm…… yes….. no….. yes.

Friend 1: Why is it not yours?

Friend 2: Listen. When it is for shopping it is my wife’s; when it is for a movie it is my daughter’s; when it is for a club it is my son’s; but when it needs fuel, it is definitely mine and mine only.


Father: Son, if you study well and pass I will give you a two-wheeler (motor bike).

Son: Yes father. (Later doubting his ability) Father, in case I fail?

Father: Don’t worry then I will give you a three-wheeler (autorickshaw).


Judge: What is your age lady?

Lady (Hesitatingly): Just turned 24.

Judge: I appreciate your honesty 24 turned is 42. Proceed.


A rich man had daughters

Rich man: I have reserved 3 lakhs for the daughter who is 25 years. I have reserved 6 lakhs for the daughter who is 29 years and I have kept 9 lakhs for the daughter who is 33 years.

A cunning young man: Uncle, do you have a daughter who is 45 years?


Friend: I heard that your son is an author. Does he write for money?

Friend 2: Yes! In every letter that he writes to me.


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