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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
SW: Feature Report Channel
Reported April 25, 2005

Laughing Matter

GO AHEAD LAUGH! IT’S GOOD FOR YOU: Debbie Harbinson became a laugh leader after seeing what laughter could do for her patients. As a surgical nurse, Harbinson often saw that just a little giggle or snort could help relieve the stress after even the most intense medical emergencies. Laughter came so naturally to her, Harbinson decided she wanted to share her gift with more people. After learning about the World Laughter Tour, she signed up to become a laugh leader. She trained in San Diego and then returned to Phoenix to lead her own Laughter Club. Now she teaches people of all ages to laugh at absolutely nothing. Her students say learning how to give a hearty "ha ha ha" makes them feel more relaxed and happy. Harbinson even helps a third-grade teacher in her area show her students how to laugh. Once a month, the third-graders walk to a senior center near the school and giggle and guffaw with the residents. The teacher says laughing has helped her students tremendously, forging friendships and helping them relate better to the senior citizens.

LAUGHING AT NOTHING: Harbinson doesn't just tell jokes to get her students to laugh. She's showing them how easy it is to just laugh. One exercise has the students replacing the words in the song "Happy Birthday" with "ha ha ho ho." She also encourages her students to laugh at themselves. But all this chuckling isn't just for fun, it's also good for your health. A growing number of doctors are recognizing the benefits of getting in a good giggle every day. Researchers at UCLA have even looked into how humor and laughter can ease the pain of their pediatric patients.

BECOMING A LAUGH LEADER: Want to be a laugh leader? Don't think you have the comedic chops to make others double over with amusement? Go to the World Laughter Tour Web site, Their training program is designed to teach the science of laughter, as well as the theory, philosophy, and physical effects of their Laughter Club method. If you just want to join a club, the Web site can help you find out if there is one near you. Or you can find out about the beginnings of the laughter club movement at, the official Web site of Madan Kataria. He offers laugh yoga training workshops all over the world.

This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Debbie Harbison

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