Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘laughfter’ Category

Laughter Therapy

Curator: Larry H.  Bernstein, MD, FCAP

 

Give Your Body a Boost — With Laughter

Why, for some, laughter is the best medicine
By
WebMD Feature

related content

http://img.webmd.com/dtmcms/live/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/dam/editorial/mental-health/emotional-wellness/laughter-heals/graphics/thumbnails/final/laughter-heals-375×321.jpg

Laughter Therapy: What Happens When We Laugh?

We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.

People who believe in the benefits of laughter say it can be like a mildworkout — and may offer some of the same advantages as a workout.

“The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar,” says Wilson. “Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate.”

One pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.

And laughter appears to burn calories, too. Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, conducted a small study in which he measured the amount of calories expended in laughing. It turned out that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories.

While the results are intriguing, don’t be too hasty in ditching that treadmill. One piece of chocolate has about 50 calories; at the rate of 50 calories per hour, losing one pound would require about 12 hours of concentrated laughter!

Laughter’s Effects on the Body
In the last few decades, researchers have studied laughter’s effects on the body and turned up some potentially interesting information on how it affects us:

Blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally — expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.

Immune response. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response, says Provine. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well.

Blood sugar levels. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.

Relaxation and sleep. The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin’s memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep.
The Evidence: Is Laughter the Best Medicine?
But things get murky when researchers try to sort out the full effects of laughter on our minds and bodies. Is laughter really good for you? Can it actually boost your energy? Not everyone is convinced.

“I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeon,” says Provine, “but the evidence that laughter has health benefits is iffy at best.”

He says that most studies of laughter have been small and not well conducted. He also says too many researchers have an obvious bias: they go into the study wanting to prove that laughter has benefits.

For instance, Provine says studies of laughing have often not looked at the effects of other, similar activities. “It’s not really clear that the effects of laughing are distinct from screaming,” Provine says.

Provine says that the most convincing health benefit he’s seen from laughter is its ability to dull pain. Numerous studies of people in pain or discomfort have found that when they laugh they report that their pain doesn’t bother them as much.

But Provine believes it’s not clear that comedy is necessarily better than another distraction. “It could be that a compelling drama would have the same effect.”

One of the biggest problems with laughter research is that it’s very difficult to determine cause and effect.

For instance, a study might show that people who laugh more are less likely to be sick. But that might be because people who are healthy have more to laugh about. Or researchers might find that, among a group of people with the same disease, people who laugh more have more energy. But that could be because the people who laugh more have a personality that allows them to cope better.

So it becomes very hard to say if laughter is actually an agent of change, or just a sign of a person’s underlying condition.

Laughing It Up for Quality of Life

Laughter, Provine believes, is part of a larger picture. “Laughter is social, so any health benefits might really come from being close with friends and family, and not the laughter itself.”

In his own research, Provine has found that we’re thirty times more likely to laugh when we’re with other people than when we’re alone. People who laugh a lot may just have a strong connection to the people around them. That in itself might have health benefits.

Wilson agrees there are limits to what we know about laughter’s benefits.

“Laughing more could make you healthier, but we don’t know,” he tells WebMD. “I certainly wouldn’t want people to start laughing more just to avoid dying — because sooner or later, they’ll be disappointed.”

But we all know that laughing, being with friends and family, and being happy can make us feel better and give us a boost — even though studies may not show why.

So Wilson and Provine agree that regardless of whether laughter actually improves your health or boosts your energy, it undeniably improves your quality of life.

“Obviously, I’m not antilaughter,” says Provine. “I’m just saying that if we enjoy laughing, isn’t that reason enough to laugh? Do you really need a prescription?”

https://youtu.be/BOY7L88RV70

Laughter therapy aims to get people laughing in both group and individual sessions and can help reduce stress, make people and employees happier and more committed, as well as improve their interpersonal skills.

Laughter therapist Keith Adams explains the background of therapeutic laughter.

Find more at: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/therapeutic-laughter.html#ixzz3rePqcdvp

Many individuals have contributed to the history of modern therapeutic laughter.

Here are just a few:

Norman Cousins, celebrated political writer

In 1979, Cousins published a book Anatomy of an Illness in which he described a potentially fatal disease he contracted in 1964 and his discovery of the benefits of humour and other positive emotions in battling the disease.

Cousins found, for example, that ten minutes of mirthful laughter gave him two hours of pain-free sleep. His story baffled the scientific community and inspired a number of research projects.

Dr William F. Fry, psychiatrist, Stanford University, California

Dr Fry began to examine the physiological effects of laughter in the late 1960s and is considered the father of ‘gelotology’ (the science of laughter).

Dr Fry proved that mirthful laughter provides good physical exercise and can decrease your chances of respiratory infections. He showed that laughter causes our body to produce endorphins (natural painkillers).

Dr Lee Berk, Loma Linda University Medical Centre

Inspired by Norman Cousins, Dr Berk and his team of researchers from the field of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) studied the physical impact of mirthful laughter.

In one study heart attack patients were divided into two groups: one half was placed under standard medical care while the other half watched humorous videos for thirty minutes each day.

After one year the ‘humour’ group had fewer arrhythmias, lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones, and required lower doses of medication. The non-humour group had two and a half times more recurrent heart attacks than the humour group (50% vs. 20%).

Dr Hunter (Patch) Adams

Immortalized in film by Robin Williams, Patch inspired millions of people by bringing fun and laughter back into the hospital world and putting into practice the idea that “healing should be a loving human interchange, not a business transaction”.

He is the founder and director of the Gesundheit Institute, a holistic medical community that has been providing free medical care to thousands of patients since 1971. He is the catalyst for the creation of thousands of therapeutic care clowns worldwide.

Dr Annette Goodheart

Goodheart is a psychotherapist and inventor of laughter therapy and laughter coaching.

Find more at: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/therapeutic-laughter.html#ixzz3reQZSqXD

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – E. E. Cummings

For years, the use of humor has been used in medicine. Surgeons used humor to distract patients from pain as early as the 13th century. Later, in the 20th century, came the scientific study of the effect of humor on physical wellness. Many credit this to Norman Cousins. After years of prolonged pain from a serious illness, Cousins claims to have cured himself with a self-invented regimen of laughter and vitamins. In his 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins describes how watching comedic movies helped him recover.

Over the years, researchers have conducted studies to explore the impact of laughter on health. After evaluating participants before and after a humorous event (i.e., a comedy video), studies have revealed that episodes of laughter helped to reduce pain, decrease stress-related hormones and boost the immune system in participants.

http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy/

Read Full Post »