How many calories do you lose when you laugh?

Laughter is one of life’s simple pleasures that can also provide some surprising health benefits. When you have a good laugh, your body responds in ways that can burn calories and improve your overall wellbeing. In this article, we’ll explore how laughing affects your body and estimate how many calories you can expect to burn during a laughing session.

What Happens in Your Body When You Laugh?

Laughing causes several physiological changes and reactions that can ultimately help you burn calories:

Increased Heart Rate

When you laugh, your heart rate increases just like during exercise. A small 1989 study found that 10-15 minutes of laughter increased heart rate by 10-20 beats per minute, similar to a brisk walk. The increased heart rate requires more energy and oxygen and leads to greater calorie expenditure.

Movement of Diaphragm and Abdominal Muscles

The physical act of laughing involves contractions of various muscles in your abdomen, diaphragm, and chest. This muscle movement and vibration burns calories, especially in prolonged belly laughter. Laughing 100 times can equate to about 10-15 calories burned.

Improved Blood Flow

Laughter causes your blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow through your body. This improves circulation and helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The boosted circulation provides a mini workout for your vascular system.

Release of Endorphins

Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s natural “feel-good” neuropeptides. Endorphins relax your muscles, reduce stress, and decrease pain signals. The decrease in stress and muscle tension leads to further calorie burn.

Lower Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is a hormone released when you experience stress and anxiety. Laughing lowers cortisol levels in the body, reducing the tendency to store fat when you’re stressed. Less cortisol means you’ll have an easier time maintaining or losing weight.

Improved Sleep

Studies show laughter can improve sleep quality and duration. Getting adequate, restful sleep allows your body to function more efficiently, making it easier to manage your weight. Poor sleep is tied to greater calorie intake and difficulty losing weight.

Calories Burned Laughing vs. Other Activities

To get a sense of how many calories you can burn by laughing, it helps to compare the calorie expenditure to other common activities. Here are some estimates for calories burned per hour in a 154-pound individual:

Activity Calories burned per hour
Laughing 40-100 calories
Walking (3 mph) 204 calories
Light cycling (10-12 mph) 298 calories
Jogging (5 mph) 512 calories
Swimming (leisurely laps) 423 calories

As you can see, laughing burns fewer calories per hour than higher intensity exercises like jogging or swimming. But laughing and other light activities still contribute to your daily calorie expenditure. It all adds up over the course of a day!

Variables that Impact Calories Burned Laughing

Several factors determine exactly how many calories you’ll burn during a laughing episode:


The longer you laugh, the more calories you’ll use up. Ten minutes of sustained laughter can burn up to 50 calories. An hour of hearty laughter may burn 100 calories or more. Prolonged laughing spells will result in greater energy expenditure.


The intensity of your laughter matters when estimating calories burned. A mild chuckle every so often won’t have the same effect as continuous, robust belly laughing. The harder your body has to work during laughter, the more calories you’ll burn.

Body Weight

Your body weight influences your metabolism and the number of calories burned for any activity. Someone who weighs 150 pounds will burn more calories laughing for an hour than someone who weighs 100 pounds. Higher weight equals greater calorie burn potential.


Your metabolism tends to slow down as you age, resulting in fewer calories burned for the same activities. A 20-year-old may burn 15-20% more calories laughing than a 60-year-old due to their higher resting metabolic rate.

Fitness Level

People with greater cardio endurance and muscular strength tend to burn more calories for all exercises, including laughing. Improved fitness means your body can work harder and process energy more efficiently when you laugh.


Due to differences in body composition, muscle mass, and hormones, men may burn 10-15% more calories than women of the same weight when laughing. However, this gender difference in calorie burning is modest during light activities like laughing.

Pre-existing Health Conditions

Certain health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis can reduce your metabolism and ability to burn calories. Impaired circulation and muscle loss from illness and inactivity make it harder to burn energy laughing.

Tips to Maximize Calories Burned Laughing

If you want to burn the most calories possible and get the full benefits from laughing, keep these tips in mind:

Laugh Vigorously

Aim for hearty, belly laughter over polite chuckles. The bigger the laugh, the more calories you’ll use. Let yourself guffaw loudly and deeply.

Laugh Longer

Extend your laughing sessions to get the most calorie burn. Try laughing for at least 10-15 minutes at a time, several times per day.

Laugh With Others

Laughter is contagious! When you laugh in a group, you tend to laugh longer and harder. Make time for laughing with family and friends.

Watch Funny Movies or Shows

Kickstart your laughter by watching comedy films, funny YouTube videos, or hilarious television shows. Amusing entertainment can help produce sustained laughter.

Try Laughter Yoga or Therapy

Joining a laughter yoga or laughter therapy group provides structured laughing practice. Being in a group setting promotes more energetic, vigorous laughter.

Prioritize Your Happiness

Focus on joy, connection, and humor in your life. Make time for activities that spark your laughter on a daily basis to reap the calorie-burning benefits.

The Bottom Line on Calories Burned Laughing

Laughing has an array of research-backed mental and physical health benefits. But can laughing help you burn calories and lose weight? Here are the key takeaways:

– Laughing engages multiple muscle groups and boosts your heart rate, leading to mild calorie burn. Belly laughing 100 times may burn up to 15 calories.

– Laughing for an hour burns roughly 40-100 calories. This is less than higher intensity exercises but can add up over time.

– Several variables like your weight, age, and fitness level impact exactly how many calories you’ll burn laughing. Heavier, younger, fitter people tend to burn more calories.

– Maximize your calorie expenditure by laughing deeply and frequently for longer periods. Combining laughing with other calorie-burning activities amplifies the benefits.

– While laughing shouldn’t replace regular exercise for weight loss, it provides a fun way to burn extra calories and enhance your overall health. Aim for frequent belly laughs whenever you can!


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