When you laugh, your heartbeat increases and your breathing deepens—just like when you do a light workout. Of course, laughter is no substitute for regular exercise, but research show that it does positively affect your well-being.

Laughing reduces stress.

As anyone who’s ever laughed during a tense moment knows, laughter is a great stress reliever. But exactly how does this physical reaction to laughter occur?

When you laugh, you breathe more deeply, your pulse rate quickens, and your blood pressure drops. When this happens, more oxygen is delivered to your brain, and your muscles relax.

Laughter improves mental attitude.

Some hospitals use laughter therapy as part of their treatment program for terminal cancer patients as well as for other terminally ill patients. According to an MSNBC report, laughter therapy improves the attitude of cancer patients. For at least a few moments, their heavy hearts are lightened, and worry and depression are replaced by happiness.

Laughter has undeniable health benefits.

To learn more about research regarding laughter and health, see “Give Your Body a Boost — With Laughter” at WebMD.

Although more research is needed, it’s clear that laughter has important and unquestionable health payoffs. For instance, it can boost your immune system, which helps you fight disease. It can also help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level. It reduces stress, too. And if you have a good laugh during the day, you’ll sleep better at night.

Even without doing any scientific research, we all know that laughter makes us feel good. Researchers, however, are still exploring how good. In the meantime, have a good dose of laughter every day. It may do wonders for your health—and your happiness.