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Laughter for Health

The Buzz... The Buzz...

Research: Laughter Is Good Medicine
Paul Antokolsky Hosts Laughter Therapy Group

POSTED: 3:14 p.m. EDT May 10, 2004 UPDATED: 5:50 p.m. EDT May 10, 2004 BOSTON -- According to research, laughter is good for our physical and mental health. <Article>

Click for articleNewsCenter 5's Liz Brunner reported that the average American child laughs 200 times per day, while adults only laugh about 15 times. Healthy laughter is Paul Antokolsky's business. "You're getting oxygen into all the cells in your body, which is something we need for energy and vitality.

And as a result, you're lowering your blood pressure, you're reducing your pain levels, you're even helping your cholesterol," said Antokolsky. "The only thing you have to do in order to laugh is to breathe." Antokolsky, a certified laughter leader, uses exercise and props to get people laughing, even if they feel silly. "I was always told that laughter is the very best medicine," said a laugh group member named June. And June's right.

"You're changing your brain chemistry, which causes the brain to produce a variety of chemicals that naturally make you feel better. It also stops producing the chemicals that make you feel anxious and tense," said Antokolsky. Antokolsky said the body doesn't know whether your giggles are spontaneous or forced, and the benefits are the same. "You can pay money to see Robin Williams or just look in the mirror.

It's exactly the same," said he said. So what tickles laugh group member, Fred's funny bone? "Somebody else's laugh, a good joke, a clean joke," he said. "I have no trouble laughing. It's just all automatic."

Channel 7
Paul Antokolsky was on Channel 5 Health Beat with Janet Woo conducting a laughter session with the wonderful folks at Brooksby Village in Peabody on Monday May 5th. "Film at 11"


Laughter for Health

Laugh your way to better health

Roslindale TranscriptRoslindale Transcript

Thursday, May 1, 2003

It's All About Arts Center in Roslindale announces an upcoming workshop that will be held on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. starting May 6. The workshop is led by Hyde Park residents Leslie Ahern and Paul Antokolsky, a pair of Certified Laugh Leaders.

The workshop involves a variety of laughing games that will have everyone sharing in the fun. There is a suggested donation of $5. For more information about "Laughter for Health" visit

It's All About Arts is a nonprofit arts organization now open in Roslindale Village at 2A Corinth St. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 1 to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.

For information, call 617-469-1700 car visit

Laughter for Health

Laughing is No Laughing Matter

The Patriot Ledger

Seniors in Hanson, Mass doing the "laughter wave"Medicine, exercise and proper nutrition are ingredients of a healthy lifestyle, but what about the cackle, chuckle and guffaw?
That's right: Laughing is as essential to good health as any diet plan, workout routine or prescription remedy, say Leslie Ahern and Paul Antokolsky.

The Hyde Park couple are wellness experts and members of Laughter Clubs International, a global network of so-called ''laugh leaders.'' The two came to Hanson yesterday to preach their gospel of giggle. Laughing, they say, is a habit that most don't keep up after childhood, but it can be learned again with the right teaching.

They offer instruction during an unusual training seminar called the ''laughter circle.'' Does laughter really work? Consider these statistics compiled in a Harvard Medical School study: Children laugh at least 10 times more often than adults.

Clemmie Locke of HansonAnd pessimists are twice as likely as optimists to develop heart problems, the study said. Laughing for only 10 minutes a day also has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and arthritis pain, said Antokolsky.

''It's free, it's fun, you already know what to do and it's good for you,'' he told about 50 seniors yesterday at Hanson Multi-Service Senior Center.

Proper breathing and stretching are about all it takes to work up a good laugh. One-liners, pranks or other jokes aren't necessary.

The most basic and important idea is to laugh from the stomach and not the chest, in the same way that vocalists learn to sing.
Antokolsky and Ahern taught the Hanson seniors to release a single ''ha,'' and then progress to a ''ha, ha.'' Soon they built up to successive laughs, and the room became a roaring laugh box. Laughing as therapy was introduced by Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian physician who wanted to change his patients' lifestyles to improve their health.

He combined laughing with the teachings of Yoga masters. ''The Lion'' is a classic Yoga technique that lends itself well to laughing, Antokolsky and Ahern said. They demonstrated how to do it: Clench both hands tightly and scrunch up your face like a mean, growling lion. On command, release the tension in an explosion of laughter. The ''laughter wave'' was another exercise they demonstrated. And people doing it looked like youngsters at Fenway Park.

As you might expect in the laughter wave, the seniors bent from the waist, flailed their arms upward and released a laugh to form their piece of a raucous chain reaction of laughs. Dancing is also a good way to chuckle.

To the beat of ''ho-ho, ha-ha-ha,'' seniors like Eva Burton, 82, and Louise McKenzie, 70, danced their way through a silly conga line.

These are just some of the ways that laugh enthusiasts like to joke around, Antokolsky said. The movement even has its own strange way of greeting. While looking each other straight in the eye, yesterday's laugh leaders shook hands and high-fived, and then laughed wildly in each other's face. ''Laugh circles don't need a reason to laugh, we just find our own ways,'' said Antokolsky.

Laughter circles are only part of Ahern and Antokolsky's mission. They are owners of Taking Care Productions, which specializes in activities, marketing and training for older adults, family caregivers and professionals. Their work is featured on ''Taking Care,'' a cable access television show in Boston, and on their web site,

After yesterday's session, some of the Hanson seniors said a good laugh would become part of their daily routine.
''It's great,'' said 83-year-old Wes Vokey. ''I don't know why I didn't do it all along. I don't understand how people get through life without laughing.''

Copyright 2002 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Wednesday, June 12, 2002



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