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RNS: Laughter yoga, May 2008

TIME: 2:05


U-M Health Minute: Today’s top health issues and medical research

Laugh your way to wellness with yoga trend

‘Laughter yoga’ combines stretches, breathing and giggle

Suggested lead:  Laughter yoga - part of a growing trend in parts of the United States, India and other countries – can really make a difference in your overall health. While it shouldn’t replace other types of exercise, laughter yoga is fun and it can help to reduce stress, enhance the immune system, and even tone muscles. Here’s Michael Hyatt with more.

“Ho ho, ha ha ha.” Believe it or not, that’s the chant that can be overheard during a fitness class at the University of Michigan Health System, while students clap their hands and walk around the room. And that’s just the warm-up.

In the next half-hour, they’ll stretch their muscles and work on breathing exercises. They’ll also laugh for most of the 30 minutes, from self-conscious giggles to uninhibited belly laughs.

Laughter yoga is part of a growing trend in parts of the United States, India and other countries. It helps students re-learn something children already know instinctively: that laughter makes you feel better.

Certified laughter yoga leader Barb Fisher, with the University of Michigan Health System’s MFit, explains…

“It is definitely for real and it definitely should be incorporated into our lives all the time. Laughter is a gift that’s been given to us that makes us feel better, health (it has) health benefits and it’s an enjoyable way to do that; we should do it. You know, kids laugh about 400 times a day, adults about 15. And kids can laugh for no reason at all, and big belly laughs, and we really need to try to get back to that.”

Not only is it fun to laugh, but that laughter can provide many health benefits including stress reduction, improved circulation and even muscle tone.

While there are many health benefits, Fisher says laughter yoga shouldn’t replace other types of aerobic and weight-bearing exercises.

“The studies have shown that 20 seconds of a good hard belly laugh is worth three minutes on the rowing machine. However, that does not mean we want to replace regular exercise with it but there (are) cardiovascular benefits to laughter.”

And laughter yoga students like Deborah Slosberg have discovered the mental and physical of laughter exercises.

“The biggest effect that I’ve gotten from laugher yoga is what it’s done for me mentally and just lightening up my day and my week.”
Student Ann Twork agrees…

“It gives me a relaxed feeling and yet I actually feel like I worked out. And I was so surprised at the benefit that have come because of the yoga class.”

M.A. Hyatt, U-M Health System News.

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