Growing evidence confirms suspicions that laughter is not only fun, but good for us! WebMD reports that laughter and moderate exercise share a host of healthful effects. According to Dr. Lee Berk's research, appetite hormones behave the same way after a good giggle as they do after a few workout reps. In science-speak: leptin goes down and grehlin goes up. Berk's volunteers watched stressful videos and hilarious videos (in no particular order) while their hormones were monitored. The results show comedy may be good for more than a chuckle.
Berk hopes his findings can assist patients who have lost their appetite. The elderly, handicapped, depressed and ill might benefit from repetitive laughter research. Overachievers may well enjoy a chortle during exercise for added benefit. Though a small study, Berk's work joins other science in supporting laughter as good medicine. More conclusive work may cause this writer to re-evaluate the association between 'cackles' and 'evil'. What can't hurt may heal!
Wanna come try laughter yoga with me?
The original study
Laughter yoga, it's not quite…
So a study of a couple hundred women undergoing IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) near Tel Aviv found that women entertained by professional Israeli clowns right after embryos were transferred to their wombs had more success in giving birth than those with no Israeli clowns.
The study, published in Fertility and Sterility, found that 36 percent of women with Israeli clowns became pregnant, as compared with the 20 percent of clown-free embryo transfer procedure. Not surprisingly, women conceiving the conventional way were found to have a much lower success rate with Israeli clowns in their room at the time of conception. I'm just saying…
Leader of the study, Dr. Friedler said he got the idea for the study because laughter is a "natural anti-stress mechanism."
Friedler, who is based at Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zrifin, Israel, said,"Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are incredibly stressed. So I thought that this intervention could be beneficial for them at the crucial moments after embryo transfer."
Friedler added that if studies at other centres back up his findings, fertility clinics elsewhere might try it too. I'm just hoping I'm fertile enough to keep the clowns out of my own uterine activities. Do you think clowns that speak Hebrew are funnier than French or English ones?
Did you know we've been laughing for 7 million years?
The Quarter Review of Biology recently published a study on laughter. There are two kinds. (Of course, Osho wrote about four kinds, so science is still lagging behind on this front…)
Thee first kind of laughter is a) spontaneous and b) stimulus-driven. The study says that just because someone is laughing with you, doesn???t mean that it is spontaneous or stimulus-driven, which is the natural kind of laugh that mirrors ape play, which arose around seven million years ago.
The second, ???dark side of laughter??? kind of laugh is strategic and sometimes can be cruel. "One type of laughter arises spontaneously from the perception of a certain class of events, while the other is used strategically in interaction to influence others or modulate one's own physiology," said Gervais, who is a researcher in the Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton University in New York. Here's where I read the article.
In laughter yoga, I aim for my laughter to always be the first kind of laughter. But I don't think this study gets at the whole picture. Laughter needs to be practiced to become part of one's life if it's been missing for a long time. That's why in laughter yoga, we encourage one another to laugh, through exercises designed to create that spontaneous first kind of laughter. Don't feel discouraged if it takes time to remember how to laugh spontaneously. It's still a practice for me. I'm even starting to laugh at standup comedy again after years of training myself to slap the table with a straight face and say in a deadpan tone, "That's funny." But it takes practice.
So come practice. Come take a laughter yoga class with me. Or come see a standup comedy show!
I came across a little blurb in the New York Times a couple of years ago that intrigued me, and I clipped out… I started using it as a bookmark and it would pop up at various times when it seemed coincidentally apropot. Here is the gist… it’s, well, possible end to the world war… So Yoki Kamuar of Kansai University (Osaka, Japan) believes he might have the answer to ending world war. It’s simple, healthy doses of laughter.
Yoki, an expert in communications, has invented a machine that charts laughter in a unit of “aH”. He says adults tend to calculate weather it’s appropriate to laugh and in a sense forget how to do it. Children, on the other hand, laugh more freely and put out almost double “aH’ measures. Yoki Kamura’s goal is to measure laughter and to make the measuring device as small as a mobile phone and sell it as a health and amusement device. He wants to use this new information to “shift from a century of wars to a century of humor and tolerance.”
I wonder what would happen if we actually started recommending a certain aH for people? If we had a government-suggested Recommended Daily Dose of Laughter? Vitamin A 20 mg, Vitamin B 30 mg, Vitamin L 50 aH…
At the doctor’s office, along with weighing you, taking your blood pressure and temperature, they could also measure your aH!
Doctor to man in office, “Ok John, turn your head and laugh.”
I wonder if they laugh much at terrorist meetings… I’d like to see what a couple of Marx Brothers movies would do to their vengeance level.
So I’m going to find one of these machines and get my laughter up to the RDDL to end some world war here. You in?
Think us humans are the only ones who need comedy in our lives? Turns out animals have neural circuits for laughter in the ancient parts of the brain, that predate even the existence of humans! There was laughter even before there was people.
Recent studies are debunking the theory that animals don't feel joy or sorrow. "Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain, and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our 'ha-ha-has' and verbal repartee," says Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University.
A recent study suggests that animals from rats to monkeys partake in joy and laughter that very much resembles a humans joy and laughter. Monkeys chase each other and pant in ways that resemble a humans laugh, even rats, as they play chirp in ways that resemble our very own giggles. They actually found that–no joke–rats might be into Sid Caesar.
"Although no one has investigated the possibility of rat humor, if it exists, it is likely to be heavily laced with slapstick," Panksepp figures. "Even if adult rodents have no well-developed cognitive sense of humor, young rats have a marvelous sense of fun."
Panksepp says more studies need to be conducted in order to really tell if these behaviors are truly an animal's way of expressing laughter, but laughter could be a deep seeded brian function that not only exists in humans, but in the animals around us as well.
So, no need to take your dog to laughter yoga with you, he's already laughing at you–I mean, with you.