I laugh a lot. My Granny used to say ‘you’d laugh to see a puddin’ crawl’. Never quite understood what she meant though!
It therefore surprised me to learn that the average human being laughs just 17 times a day. I do that an hour! Anyway, I decided to look a little deeper into this laughter malarkey.
Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way. Laughter is – ehem - 'a rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory and involuntary action'. I’m sure you knew that already! Fifteen muscles join force to produce a laugh, during which time the epiglottis half closes the larynx causing gasping which when vocalised ends up as anything from a giggle to a guffaw! Got it? Good!
It is said that laughter is the best medicine. And there is evidence to suggest that laughter can in fact help fight disease! It’s true. It’s just no one has discovered why yet. It is known however that laughter increases the levels of cells which fight tumours and viruses – I won’t bore you with their rather long names now, but it’s a fact! It also lowers your blood pressure and increases the oxygenation of the blood which assists healing.
A good giggle also shuts off the flow of those pesky stress hormones which swing into action in our bodies when we experience anger or hostility.
And how about this? Laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Laughing can be a total body workout! It affects the diaphragm as well as the abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles. That’s why you often feel exhausted after a long bout of laughter. And there’s no personal trainer to tell you what to do, or fit young things around you to make you feel inferior.
Some people are not particularly musical. Not everyone can sing in tune. But we all have natural rhythm. Listen to anyone laugh. It’s always as rhythmic as a drum beat. Regular and precise.
Anyway, did you hear the story about the woman who walked up to a little old man sitting on a bench in the park?
“I couldn’t help noticing how contented you look,” she said. “What’s your secret for a long happy life?”
“I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day,” he said. “I also drink a case of whisky a week, eat fatty foods, and never exercise.”
“That’s amazing,” the woman said. “How old are you?’
“Twenty-six!” he said.
And if you laughed at that you just added 3.557 seconds to your life!