Your are going to read two articles about health benefits of laughter. Read the texts carefully and complete the tasks.

1 Laugh Your Way to Stress Relief

It has often been said that ‘laughter is the best medicine’. (1) … In fact, recent studies have proved that when it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws could be the cure we need. (2)
The short-term effects are those that are most immediately obvious. (3) … First, the broadening of the mouth as you smile or laugh leads to a series of shorter, more rapid intakes of breath. This sudden increase in your normal oxygen supply revitalises the heart and muscles. (4) … Now that your stress levels have come down, you are now also less likely to be affected with some of the illnesses commonly associated with stress, such as stomach ache and headache.
(5) … A number of studies have suggested that having a predominantly negative attitude to the world may actively weaken your body’s ability to fight infection. (6) … In fact, in one study, people with cancer who watched a humorous video showed an increase in a particular cell activity that’s beneficial in fighting that disease.
(7) … Firstly, by focusing our attention away from pain, and secondly, it leads to the production of endorphins, the body’s natural opiate which soothes pain and relieves stress. (8)
Of course, you don’t have to be ill to realise just how beneficial laughter is. Potentially awkward or unpleasant conditions (at work, for example) can be avoided through a well-timed joke. One study of nurses who work in emergency rooms suggested that those who used humour in dealing with their patients and colleagues experienced greater job satisfaction and feelings of personal accomplishment than those who took a more serious approach.
But what should you do if you’re one of those people who go through life with a permanent frown on their face? Or perhaps you’re one of those people who genuinely finds it hard to see the funnier side of things? Well, don’t worry. Although we tend to think of laughter as something spontaneous, it may actually be possible to train your sense of humour.
Begin by making humour a physical fixture. The next time you hear a joke that makes you laugh, write it down on a piece of card; or if you laugh at a cartoon in a newspaper, make sure you cut it out. Once you start to build up a collection, keep them handy—stick them on your fridge or on your computer, anywhere you’ll be able to see them again and again. Having a good sense of humour often simply means being able to see the world in different ways. Actively collecting how humourists view a situation will help you to build up your own comic insight. Next, try to develop a sense of humour about your own situation, no matter how bad that might seem to be, and watch your stress begin to fade away. But be careful not to laugh at the expense of others. That kind of humour is more often than not the result of a deeply pessimistic outlook and is not only hurtful to others but quite likely to increase your stress levels.
Once you’ve done all that, it’s time for you to see just what a difference laughter can make to your health and well-being. Remember, the longer and more vigorous your laugh, the greater the overall benefits are likely to be. So this is no time to be timid or shy and no time to care what other people might think. After all, don’t you think it’s about time you laughed your way to stress relief?

Questions

Eight sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences (ah) the one which fits each gap (18). For the remaining questions, choose from the sections (A–F); the sections may be chosen more than once.

Premium Content

Sign in to access this content.

2 Laughter Inc: the Cheering Growth of the Chuckle Industry

Getting people to laugh together has become a serious enterprise, report Sarah Morrison and Beren Cross

Would you drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning to laugh your head off on the telephone with a group of total strangers? And would you pay £6 a month for the privilege? Incredibly, this is just what some are doing in order to participate in ‘laughter therapy’, one of the new services that people around the country are signing up for. Laughter might be one of the least serious of human activities, but corporations, schools, behavioural experts, religious leaders, and health workers are suddenly desperate to get people chuckling more.

There is no doubt that the number of people flocking to ‘laughter yoga’ sessions, festivals, telephone clubs, and workshops to enjoy the potential health benefits of a good laugh is growing. The UK’s Laughter Network of therapists—largely made up of laughter yoga teachers, social workers, and mental health professionals—has more than tripled in membership since it was launched nine years ago. Major companies such as Bardays and consultancy firm Ernst & Young have reportedly signed employees up to laughter workshops—which can charge corporate rates of up to £500 an hour—while ‘giggle doctors’ have attended hospitals across the country.

‘Laughter is more than just laughter—it’s not just silly,’ said Lotte Mikketson, a laughter yoga trainer who has coached more than 600 teachers in Britain and laughs with anything from 20 to 40 people each day in her club. ‘To maintain the physiological changes and benefits we get from it, we need to do it every day,’ she added. ‘We’re frowned upon in public if we do big, roaring belly laughs, but laughter club is a safe space to really laugh from the belly: you really get an exchange of air, it jogs internal organs, and you benefit physically.’

The science seems to back her up. Research by the University of Arizona in the USA has suggested that laughter yoga—an Indian tradition which mixes yoga breathing techniques and forced giggling sessions—could have the potential to improve mood and thus stabilise heart rates in patients awaiting organ transplants. Dieters, too, may benefit from the direct physical effects of laughter. Researchers at a medical college in the USA have calculated the energy expended in a laugh and claimed that genuine voiced laughter causes a 10 to 20 per cent increase in energy and heart rate. As a result, people who laugh burn more calories than those who don’t.

Jo Bluett is a firm believer in the efficacy of laughter therapy. She turned to laughter to overcome health problems she experienced after losing her job. She now refers to herself as a ‘laughter facilitator’ and has worked with the National Health Service to deliver sessions at a recovery network conference. ‘When I had challenges with my own health, laughter helped me cope with pain, and be more positive,’ she said. ‘It helped me get back into work after ten years on benefits. It helped me to regain balance and a healthy life.’

Some may dismiss her claims that laughter is beneficial for health, but research has unearthed evidence to prove that she may be right. In addition to relaxing your body and relieving physical tension and stress, studies have found that laughter helps the immune system. When we are unhappy, we experience negative thoughts, and these thoughts create chemical reactions that decrease our immunity to infection. Positive thoughts, on the other hand, result in our bodies releasing neuropeptides—chemicals that help us tackle serious illnesses. Another study has found that a good giggle helps to reduce pain. Not only does it focus our attention away from the pain, but it also causes the release of special neurotransmitter substances in the brain called endorphins that help control the pain. In fact, laughter is seen as such a good tonic for children who are ill or undergoing treatment that hospitals in the UK employ ‘down doctors’, medical experts who dress up and entertain young patients.

Questions

For each question, choose the answer which you think fits best according to the text.

Premium Content

Sign in to access this content.