Laughter is the Best Medicine

“When you’re smilin’, when your smilin’ the whole world smiles with you.” That catchy tune written by Joe Goodwin, Larry Shay, and Mark Fisher is true. When you smile, it affects others. It is hard not to smile back when someone is flashing a smile at you.

The next best thing about smiling is laughing. Laughter has its benefits.  These benefits can promote a healthier you. Laughter activates the release of endorphins, therefore making you feel good. According to the Cleveland Clinic, laughter is essential to promote health. “Laughter, happiness and a sense of humor can help you stay healthy.” These are the opposite effects of depression, anxiety and social isolation which negatively affect your health.

It feels good to laugh. There are health benefits to laughing. Laughing allows your muscles to relax, decreases stress and boosts your immune system. Laughter can generate positive energy which is needed for relaxation, brain and heart health. These benefits are priceless for the cost!

The prescription can be very simple. Figure out what makes you laugh. Is it a good comedy or a friend with a great punchline? Are you someone who can sit watch America’s Home videos and cry your eyes out from laughing so hard? There are many things people can choose to do to improve their health. Exploring what makes them laugh should be one of them.

In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from India, realized the benefits of laughing. He formed the first “laughing club”.  The club started with five people who spent the first day together laughing in a park. The group would meet in the morning. The benefits of laughter were “feeling of good for the rest of the day” after telling a funny story or joke as a group.  The club quickly grew and before they knew it, they had 50 members.

The group hit a roadblock. Some stories and jokes became offensive to some members. Dr. Kataria asked the group to give him some time to come up with a solution and not give up on the group. The group had trust and waited for answers.

In Dr. Kataria’s research, he found that it did not matter where laughter originated from. Laughter could be “fake” or “real”. He explained if you act out your laughter, for some reason, the make-believe laughter quickly turns into real laughter. The group tried it. They found out this was true. And from this, “laughing yoga” was born.

The laughing club grew into “laughing yoga”. Dr. Kataria and his wife saw the benefits of using laughter and ancient Yoga, including breathing exercises to gain the greatest benefits. This promoted relaxation of muscles, stress reduction and boosts to the immune system.

Laughing yoga is available in the United States. You can search for classes near you and see if this is something that helps you relax and laugh! A prescription that is easy to fill—smile and laugh. And as the rest of the song goes…. “When you’re laughin’, oh when you’re laughin’, the sun comes shining through!

Laugh, smile and be well!

If you are looking for assistance to find a class that fits your needs through our care management services, we are glad to help you smile and laugh again. Please contact Nicole Lipinski, RN, Director of Healthy Aging at The Jewish Home of Eastern PA 570-344-6177 ext. 1113 nlipinski@jhep.org