Have you ever laughed so hard your abs hurt? Well, that’s the science behind the idea that you can laugh your way to fitness. Laughing has a variety of mental and physical benefits, all of which can lead to a healthier life inside the gym and out.

5 Reasons to Start Laughing Now

When you laugh, you reap the benefits of a full body workout, both inside and out. Hasya, or laughter, yoga is based on the principles that laughing is so good for the body, it’s worth including in your workout. When laughing, you:

  • Improve cardiovascular function: Laughing in itself is a workout, whether you laugh in the gym or at your work desk.
  • Reduce stress: When you’re laughing, you’re not thinking about a stressful situation you may be dealing with.
  • Enhance your immune system: Laughing activates t-cells, which fight sickness.
  • Tone muscles: When you’re crunched over in a belly laugh, your abdomen muscles are working hard.
  • Lowers blood pressure: Laughing reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Higher pain tolerance: Chuckling releases endorphins, natural pain killers for your body.

Warm Up With Laughter

The key to laughing your way to fitness is using it strategically to enhance your current workouts, because laughter isn’t necessarily an adequate fitness routine on its own. One way to do this is to laugh while you warm up for your workout. If you reduce stress, you’ll have a more effective workout. And, with improved circulation and cardiovascular function, you’re body will be able to work more efficiently, as well.

So, how do you get laughing pre-gym?

  • Watch a stand-up comedy or a funny movie during a treadmill warm-up.
  • Listen to comedians on your iPod on your way to the gym.

Push Harder With Laughter

While you don’t need to listen to comedy during every workout, your tough routines have much to gain. An Oxford University study found a correlation between a higher pain threshold and comedy. MensFitness.com explains, “When your endorphins are kicking, your mind and body are less susceptible to pain, like the strenuous pain you go through during exercise, according to the Oxford study.” Set up a laughing playlist and turn it on during an especially hard workout.

Add More Laughing to Your Day

Ultimately, laughing is most beneficial outside the gym. Laughing more throughout the day can improve your overall well-being which affects everything from stress levels to the energy needed for a post-work gym session.  Making small changes can be all it takes to see the benefits. Here are five ways you can start laughing today.

  1. Read the funnies in the morning.
  2. Watch a humorous video when working on a stressful project at work.
  3. Listen to a comedy album on your way home work, or when stuck in traffic.
  4. Grab dinner with old friends, and laugh about old times.
  5. See the humor in an otherwise annoying situation.

Laughing is a great way to boost your current workout routine and improve your overall mental health. So, don’t be shy to laugh at that bad joke or office dispute; your body will thank you.