lady laughingNational Humor Month

April is chock full of fun from the very first day, April Fool’s Day, to it’s very last day, National Honesty Day, which is a joke for many people, especially as we are in the middle of an election year. April first is also known as Fun at Work Day. April third is World Party Day. April 14th is International Moment of Laughter Day. April 29th is World Dance Day and if you have ever seen me dance you will know that is a joke. Anyway, you get the picture. April is intended to be a jovial month which begs the question, “How does brevity affect us?”

 

Laugh Therapy

Reader’s Digest has had a column entitled, “Laughter, the Best Medicine” for decades. Recent medical studies are proving what the publishers of that magazine already knew- laughter is medicine. A whole realm of therapy is springing up taking advantage of these studies. It is called “laughter therapy.” It is based on the belief that laughter can, not only provide medicinal benefits, but also help the client and therapist bond, thus helping the sessions to be more productive.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America are now including laughter therapy as part of their cancer treatment regimens. Dr. Katherine Puckett describes their sessions as not based on humor or jokes, but on physical exercises such as fake laughter designed to generate real laughter, feelings and emotions.

Health Benefits

Researchers Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California listed several benefits of laughter in a study they conducted in the 1980s. Their research indicates that a good laugh can lower blood pressure and stress hormones, thus improving cardiac health. Further cardiac improvement is obtained through increasing the heart contractions and burning calories at about the same rate as a slow to moderate paced walk. Repetitive laughter can have the benefits of repetitive exercise.

Two other benefits of laughter according to Berk and Tan are that laughter releases endorphins which are natural pain inhibitors. Laughter also increases T cells into the blood stream that can help your body fight sickness and infection.

Genetics

Geneticist Kazuo Murakami has been studying the effects of laughter on genes. His team of researchers has discovered at least 23 genes that can be activated by laughter. In the future, Mr. Murakami hopes that targeting specific genes with laughter may open the door to curing diseases.

Memory

An even more recent study conducted two years ago, again with Dr. Berk as an investigator, studied the effect of laugher on memory. His control group watched a comedy video for twenty minutes.  Memory recall improved in almost 44% of the laughter participants.

The Joke

Now as you have been reading this article you may have been waiting for a joke, but I’m not a comedian. Sorry. The best I can do is point you to where you can find some real jokesters.  Sometimes when I am in need of a few minutes of brevity I’ll cruise through YouTube looking for some favorite entertainers or past TV sitcoms. In case you don’t already subscribe to Reader’s Digest you can still read jokes from their Laughter, the Best Medicine column and other jokes they have collected over the years at http://www.rd.com/jokes. Take some time this month for laughter and enjoy the health and therapeutic benefits it can give. Happy laughing!

 

 

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