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Why Laughter Is Good For The Respiratory System, Opens Lungs, Ventilates Spirit




More laughter = more oxygen, the lifeline of our system

Oxygen is one of the primary catalysts for biological energy in the human body. We breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. It is an element of intracellular energy that’s absolutely necessary to sustain human life. It plays an important role in the circulatory and respiratory systems. It purifies the blood by removing the toxic wastes in the blood stream.




To keep the lungs healthy and provide enough oxygen for the body to perform at peak levels, one needs to take deeper breaths and flush the stale air from the lungs. A normal inhalation fills just 25% (tidal volume) of the total lung capacity. The remaining 75% (residual volume held in the lower 2/3’s of our lungs) remains filled with old stale air. Respiration becomes even shallower when compounded by stress.

Laughter helps to provide longer exhalations, thus ridding the lungs of residual air and enriching the blood with ample supplies of oxygen, the lifeline of our system.

When you breathe shallowly:

  • You are making your heart work more because most of the gas exchange takes place in the lower lungs, and it has to beat more to achieve the same input of oxygen and output of carbon dioxide;
  • You do not help your lymphatic system much (it is the engine of your immune system and what keeps you healthy), as that system has no pump. To move the lymph you need to either exercise and/or breathe deeper.




An easy (and most enjoyable!) way to sustain deep exhales is to laugh.

Hearty extended laughter (easy to achieve and sustain with Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga) helps to provide longer exhalation, thus ridding the lungs of residual air, which is then replaced by fresh air containing a higher level of oxygen. The secret to breathing deeper is to exhale more fully. Laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in resulting in a cleansing effect. This is especially helpful for people who are suffering from respiratory ailments, such as asthma.

As you breathe deeply during a hearty laugh, saturating your lungs with oxygenated blood, you may have to cough, sputter or spit. This is due to things loosening up in your respiratory system and getting a good fresh cleaning.




What the experts say about the importance of oxygen

  • Deep breathing techniques which increase oxygen to the cell are the most important factors in living a disease-free and energetic life… Remember: where cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not, cannot occur.” – Dr. Otto Warburg (President, Institute of Cell Physiology, Nobel Prize Winner. Dr. Warburg is the only person to ever win the Nobel Prize twice in medicine, and he was nominated for a third.)
  • Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system. We can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of all diseases.” – Stephen Levine (Antioxidant Adaptation—Its Role in Free Radical Pathology, 1985.)
  • Breathing correctly is the key to better fitness, muscle strength, stamina, and athletic endurance.” – Dr. Michael Yessis (Dr. Michael Yessis, PhD, President Sports Training Institute, Fitness Writer – Muscle and Fitness Magazine.)
  • All body functions are breathing related. Proper oxygen delivery to all parts of your body is crucial to health and well-being. Aerobic exercise increases the body’s available oxygen and therefore promotes wellness. Delivering oxygen to the body is the responsibility of the respiratory system. Breathing is the process by which air enters the bloodstream, by way of the lungs. Thus, proper breathing, and correcting common breathing disorders, is the ultimate form of aerobics.” – Dr. Robert Fried (Breath Connection, Insight Books, 1990, p. 52.)
  • “(Belly) Laughter creates convulsive reactions, which free up muscular tension within the body, and charge and mobilize the voice and breathing.” – Alexander Lowen, father of Bioenergetic Psychotherapy



Relevant studies

Following laughter, there is a corresponding decrease in heart rate and respiratory rate (Fry WF. The biology of humor. Humor 1994;7 (2):111-126);

Laughter and smiling induced by a humor intervention (clowning) were able to reduce hyperinflation in severe and very severe COPD patients (Brutsche MH, Grossman PG, Müller RE, et al. Impact of laughter on air trapping in severe chronic obstructive lung disease. Int J COPD. 2008;3 (1):185-192.);

Laughter led to immediate increases in heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen consumption and may improve oxygen saturation levels.

  • Fry WF, Rader C. The respiratory components of mirthful laughter. J Biol Psychol. 1977;19 (2);39-50.
  • Fry W, Savin W. Mirthful laughter and blood pressure. Humor. 1988;1:49-62.
  • Fry WF Jr. The physiologic effects of humor, mirth, and laughter. JAMA. 1992;267 (13):1857-1858.
  • Filippelli M, Pellegrino R, Iandelli I, et al. Respiratory dynamics during laughter. J Appl Physiol 2001;90 (4):1441-1446.
  • Sakuragi S, Sugiyama Y, Takeuchi K. Effects of laughing and weeping on mood and heart rate variability. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2002;21 (3):159-165.
  • Fry WF Jr, Stoft PE. Mirth and oxygen saturation levels of peripheral blood. Psychother Psychosom. 1971;19 (1):76-84




Viewing a humorous film decreased bronchial responsiveness in asthmatic patients (Kimata H. Effect of viewing a humorous vs. non-humorous film on bronchial responsiveness in patients with bronchial asthma. Physiol Behav. 2004;81 (4):681-684.)

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