Would you drag yourself from bed at the crack of dawn to laugh your head off on the phone with a group of complete strangers? This is just one of the services people around the country are signing up for and even paying for.
While laughing may be considered one of the least serious of human activities, health workers, behavioural experts and even religious leaders are keen to get the nation giggling more.
A growing amount of research is revealing the health benefits of a good chuckle, prompting people to attend laughter yoga sessions and telephone clubs. This form of yoga blends traditional yoga breathing techniques with forced laughter.
The UK’s Laughter Network is mainly made up of yoga teachers, mental health professionals and social workers and has more than tripled in membership since its launch nine years ago – clearly displaying an increased interest in the subject.
Research carried out by the University of Arizona has suggested that laughter yoga could help to improve mood and stabilise heart rates in patients awaiting organ transplants.
Oxford University found that when a good belly laugh is shared with others it can increase a person’s pain thresholds by releasing protective endorphins. The study also suggested that laughter may play a crucial role in social bonding.
It appears that the old adage about laughter being the best medicine may well be true. Further research into the health benefits of laughter have shown that it relaxes the body, relieves physical tension and even boosts the immune system.
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