I remember being a very know-it-all 7 year old and reciting the fact, "It takes more muscles in your face to frown than it does to laugh" to any adult I noticed with a grumpy mug. An obnoxious little habit, yes, but that doesn't make it less true. Weird things happen to your body when you laugh. Using a medium number of facial muscles is honestly the least of it.
Business Insider recently released a video explaining some of the strange things that happen to your body when you laugh. After all, humans are some of the only creatures with a proven ability to get their giggle on. Similar reactions have been observed in primates, but it's kind of hard to prove for sure that they're also reacting to things with laughter, you know?
Laughter is a response that engages your frontal lobe (which processes emotion), the left side of your brain (which interprets information), the right side of your brain (determining something as "humorous"), your limbic system (which releases basic emotions, like fear), and your motor function (which produces the actual "ha ha"). And that's just neurological side of things. Laughter has been shown to increase blood flow, which can decrease your chances of a heart attack, as well as increase certain antibodies, necessary for a healthy immune system.
Crazy, right? Scroll down to watch the full video — and in the meantime, here are a few more things that will (hopefully) inspire you to get your goof on.
1. Your Pain Tolerance Temporarily Increases
One recent study found that hospital patients who watched comedy videos were less likely to require opioid painkillers; additionally, another put subjects through a series of pain-inducing activities after having them watch clips from Friends and South Park, and found that they experienced less discomfort than peers who watched feel-good clips from shows like Planet Earth.
2. Your Tear Ducts Are Activated And Your Larynx Closes
Which sounds kind of weirdly awful, right? This physical reaction is why you're often left red-faced, teary, and literally gasping for air during those amazing goof sessions.
3. It Inhibits Your "Flight Or Fight" Response
Laughter is inherently a tool in human bonding. According to philosopher John Morreall, some of the first instances of human laughter may have been a shared relief that danger had passed. Laughter within a group increases feelings of trust and inhibits a person's fight-or-flight response.
4. Certain Muscles Become Weaker And Less Coordinated
Have you ever kind of, um, accidentally tripped or fallen over or dropped something when you were gigglin' away? That's because muscles that aren't directly involved in your laughter, like those your limbs, become temporarily weaker and less coordinated.
5. Your Age Affects What You Find Funny
While there are a number of theories regarding what humans think is funny and why, the most divisive element in humor taste tends to be age. Toddlers, for example, like short and simple goofs. Slightly older kids like the silly and ridiculous, as well as jokes where cruelty is present (it helps with their self-assertiveness development). Which tends to scare parents, duh. Don't worry, guys, turns out all kiddos are just a tad evil.
6. You Are Getting A Serious Workout
Laughing directly involves a minimum of 15 muscles, and functions as a sort of an "internal jogging" workout, according to Dr. William Fry, an associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. One straight minute of heavy laughing (which is honestly very hard to maintain, it hurts so good!) is roughly equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine.