World Laughter Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of May, an idea that started in India in 1998 at the initiative of Dr Madan Kataria, who believed in the healing properties of laughter and had some good reasons for that.
However, let’s take things over from the beginning: When and why do we laugh? We laugh when a stimulus reaches to specific brain regions. This stimulus may be sensory (tickle), chemical (nitrous oxide, not randomly named the “laughing gas”) or spiritual (humor).
US researchers at Northwestern University found that people who had just watched a comedy did it better in solving crosswords than those who had watched a horror movie or a lecture on physics. It seems that a part of the brain is activated by laughter, fact that helps us to find intelligent solutions to our problems.
As unbelievable as it sounds, laughter is a very good form of exercise, because when we laugh we use more than half our muscles, exercising the stomach, abs, lower back and pelvic muscles. Just 20 seconds of laughter is like three minutes of fast walking for the heart.
Apart from the very helpful and relaxing exercise, laughter has even more to offer us:
- It is anxiolytic, ie exactly what we need to cope with the demands of our everyday life.
- It is anti-aging. Laughter increases blood circulation to the face and nourishes the skin, making it glow.
- It increases levels of endorphins – body’s natural analgesic – in the blood. One study showed that patients with chronic pain showed a 55% reduction in pain perception after 8 weekly sessions with “laughter therapy”.
- Helps control high blood pressure, decreasing the secretion of stress hormones.
- Helps fight depression, anxiety and psychosomatic disorders.
- Helps to better functioning of digestion.
- Improves men’s sex lives as it acts like a natural … Viagra!
Did you know that?
- On average, an adult laughs around 6.205 times a year, or about 17 times a day. Does this seem much to you? Not at all if you consider that children laugh on average 40 times a day!
- 15 minutes of laughter have the same benefits as two hours of sleep, while we burn about 50 calories!
- A man who laughs out loud exhales air from his lungs at a speed of nearly 100 km per hour!
- The duration of a “ha” or “hi” does not exceed 1/16 second.
- Company is not necessary for us to laugh, however it is found that we laugh more with the same joke if it’s done in the presence of others. Moreover, we laugh on average 30 times more if we have company compared with our solitary moments.
- The most laughing people live in Cuba and Brazil. In contrast are the inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries.
Laugh out loud …it’s good for you!