The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old laughs less than 10 times a day.
Author Norman Cousins called laughter “inner jogging.” He suffered from severe arthritic pain and self-prescribed a daily “laughing cure” that consisted of 10 minutes of hearty laughter while watching Marx Brothers movies. It helped significantly decrease his pain.
In addition, laughing on a regular basis reduces stress hormone levels and increases health-enhancing hormones like endorphins; it also improves heart health and stimulates your immune system.
All of this results in relaxation, resistance to disease, improved mood, and a positive outlook. Laughter helps you instantly de-stress and feel great.
5 Exercises to Get Your Laugh On
1. Let-Go & LOL. Start laughing, gradually increasing the tempo and volume of your laughter. Create the space and give yourself permission to Laugh-Out-Loud.
2. Contagious Laugh. Walk around and greet people with a big smile and welcoming laughter. Enjoy how contagious laughter is. Be childlike and silly.
3. Belly Laugh. Place your hands on your belly and laugh heartily. Feel the abdominal workout, and enjoy the jiggle. Laugh your way to six-pack abs.
4. Ha-Ha, Ho-Ho. Stretch your arms out and say, “Ha-Ha”, gently bend forward and say “Ho-Ho.” Repeat at least nine times. Start in slow motion then speed up. Take long, slow inhalations.
5. Mimic Game. Imitate your favorite laughers. Santa Claus, Doctor Evil, Dracula. Try imitating yourself — remember not to take yourself too seriously!
Your body doesn’t recognize the difference between real and fake laughter–endorphins are released either way. So don’t hesitate to fake it ’til you make it! The health benefits are well worth it even if you risk appearing like a fool.
I think it’s healthy to expose your inner child and loosen up your need for control. Across America for over two decades I have been teaching laughter and yoga. I learned firsthand that laughter truly is the best medicine.
Laughter in combination with gentle yoga is a transformative practice no matter your age, yoga experience or physical limitation. Let the joke be on you and laugh your way to wellness.
Darrin Zeer is the best-selling author of Office Yoga, CNN calls him “America’s Relaxation Expert.” Darrin has helped over half a million people relax thru his books, blogs & classes. www.DarrinZeer.com
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.”—Michael Pritchard