A Laugh a Day: How to Improve Your Health with a Chuckle

I first read about laughing clubs a few years ago, and when I did, I'm pretty sure that I laughed out loud.

After all, who wouldn't chuckle at the idea of a group of people who met daily around dawn at a park just to laugh?

The club, which apparently was started by a physician in Mumbai, India, operated like this: Once the group had assembled, someone started to giggle. This prompted the rest of the group to guffaw, then chortle, then crack up, and finally dissolve in fits of laughter.

I seem to remember the article mentioning that laughing was a good abdominal workout. Clearly, a lot more fun than sit-ups. And I didn't hear much about it after that.

But not long ago, I happened to catch a CNN video on laughing clubs, which seem to be springing up around the world. Among the most popular is Laughter Yoga, which is becoming something of a global phenomenon. Clubs can be found all over the world, including cities throughout the United States.

As we all know, laughter is the best medicine. The medical community may quibble over the word "best," but clearly there are some tangible benefits.

Researchers have found that adults laugh about 17 times a day, and regular laughter decreases stress, improves the immune system, and boosts endorphin levels. If nothing else, laughter does ensure that we live in the moment.

Meanwhile, it's pretty clear that laughter is just as contagious they say. I'll be honest: Watching these, I'm not sure if I'm laughing at these folks -- or along with them -- and I'm not sure that it matters.

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