[Guest blogger Carly Dawson spins up the hooping and the laughter.]
by Carly Dawson
Recently, while minding my own business online, I accidentally stumbled across a video for something called “Laughter Yoga”. Now I had never heard of such a thing and I wasn’t even quite sure what to make of it, but I must say after clicking play I was laughing along with the people in the video by the time it was over. While it looked a little ridiculous to me, it also looked like so much fun! And when the video ended I couldn’t help but think more about the power of laughter. Not only can it transform our day and our lives, but it’s infectious in transforming the lives of others. It got me wondering about all of the laughter in my hoop classes. Sometimes a class really is just an hour of laughter and we don’t need to force the laughter either. It happens simply because we are feeling fun and silly inside our hoops.
I think it’s a skill to be able to laugh at oneself and it’s one we need to actively work on. Did you know that most adults only laugh 17 times a day, while pre-school children laugh 400 times a day? As we get older so many of us grown-ups begin to take life too seriously – and that’s why hooping is such a gift. Just the prospect of hula hooping in front of a room full of people can be enough to send some people into a fit of giggles! And if it is true what they always say, that laughter is the best medicine, if laughter is in fact medicine what are the more specific health benefits associated with laughter in and of itself? So I did a bit of research and here’s what I learned:
Laughter Benefit #1: When we laugh we are filling the lungs more and taking in more oxygen, which is good for the entire body!
Laughter Benefit #2: Laughing is near enough a full body workout! A hearty laugh works the diaphragm, contracting the abs and it even works out the shoulders. It’s also good for the heart. Laughing 100 times is the equivalent to 10 minutes on an exercise bike! It also lowers blood pressure, massages the internal organs, reduces stress hormones and burns calories.
Laughter Benefit #3: Doctors can recommend laughter as a therapeutic exercise to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The stress busting hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters released when laughing can help lift the mood and when released regularly can help depression sufferers see the brighter side of life and improve long term.
Laughter Benefit #4: Laughing is good for our immune system and can help us fight off disease! Laughers live longer! According to some recent research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people, those who expected good things to happen (rather than bad things), were less likely to die than pessimists.In fact, among the 65-85 year-old study participants, those who were most optimistic were 55 percent less likely to die from all causes than the most pessimistic people. What’s more, after researchers adjusted the results for age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity and other measures of health and the optimists were 71 percent less likely to die than the pessimists!
Do you need an injection of laughter in your life? Then why not grab your hula hoop. And if you’re not really feeling like laughing, just fake it anyway. Pretend to belly laugh, make some outrageous noises, and before you know it you’ll be giggling for real! And when we mix the power of laughter with exercise, especially when it is something fun like hooping, we are really able to supercharge our workout into something that can in fact make us feel high on life!