AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Laugh Until It Hurts!

Have you ever left a funny conversation feeling better than ever? Have you ever felt a special bond with those who can easily make you laugh?

A recent New York Times article discussed why laughter feels so good, even if you laugh until your stomach hurts.  Laughing causes the release of endorphins which is an opioid, or morphine-like chemical.

As a result of the release of endorphins, laughter acts as a “painkiller.” Recent studies show that humans have a higher pain tolerance for intense skiing workouts, an ever-tightening blood pressure cuff, or ice packs on the skin after laughing at either a stand-up comic, or a funny movie. “Feel –good” movies, or nice movies that do not make the viewer laugh, do not have the same pain-reducing effects.

So why, then, is laughter contagious? Laughter has been found to be a bonding activity, much like singing or dancing (which also trigger the release of endorphins).  People feel connected when they laugh together, and, according to Dr. Dunbar, laughter was probably “an early mechanism to bond social groups.”  That other primates, such as apes, bond over laughter (which sounds like a human pant) and the joint release of endorphins, adds validity to Dr. Dunbar’s theory.

So, do you think this study is convincing enough to get “funny movie” time before sports practice?


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  1. nicleus2

    I found this article very interesting and can really relate to how laughter helps form social bonds, since I laugh probably more than 20 times a day with my friends in school. After reading this post, I wanted to look into the further benefits of laughter, and found an article discussing the social, hormonal and physical ways laughter helps alleviate stress:

    I’m sure many of you can use this to your benefit, considering the fact that were all under a tremendous amount of stress right now!!

  2. biologiamaster

    Not only does laughter release endorphins it also has measurable health benefits!
    Researchers at the University Maryland School of Medicine, discovered that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in a series of situations when compared to people of the same age without heart disease. They don’t know the mechanism by which laughter protects the heart however they do conclude laughter is the best medicine.

  3. mrmoz55

    This post really sparks my attention because I laugh many times day. I wanted to see what other benefits laughing has on people, besides making them feel good. I did my research and found this…

    This was a really informative article, check it out. You might find something you didn’t know about laughing.

  4. grexthebiodino

    This is really interesting and made me want to the topic of laughter even more. This article describes how laughter isn’t just temporary happiness, but that laughing actually balances your emotions, stabilizes your immune system and improves heart function. Take a look!

  5. carlybio12

    It is interesting how you said laughter acts as a painkiller, because laughter can also be considered a “medication.” It is considered effective in helping improve patients with dementia Its the best medication out there because there are, obviously, no side effects.
    check it out at-

  6. sweetasglucose

    This is really interesting, and the part about laughter being a bond to social groups is so true. This article:

    elaborates on what laughter means to humans.

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