WTF Fun Facts 12744 – Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga was first introduced by Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician in Mumbai, India, in 1995. Using research that showed laughter can have beneficial effects on physical and mental health.

Since it was introduced, it has spread all over the world and has been shown to help improve mood through the release of serotonin and dopamine, improve cardiovascular function by improving blood flow to the heart, and reduce stress by suppressing cortisol levels.

Better yet, it’s free and doesn’t require anything but feeling a little bit silly.

What is laughter yoga?

You can do laughter yoga on your own, but doing it in a group setting (even via Zoom) has been shown to have further beneficial effects as it increases feelings of belonging and reduces loneliness.

According to Healthline (cited below): “Most sessions begin with simple breathing techniques, clapping, and chanting to help people relax. For example, you may begin the class by clapping rhythmically 1-2, 1-2-3 while chanting ‘ho-ho, ha-ha-ha.'”

We tried it. It does feel totally ridiculous at first. But eventually (and especially if you’re in a group), the fake laughter leads to real laughter. And your body doesn’t seem to know the difference anyway. Nothing actually has to be funny for you to get the mental and physical benefits that laughter brings.

Studies on the health effects

In addition, Healthline cited many studies pointing to proof of the benefits of laughter yoga:

“A 2019 review found simulated laughter lowered depression rates and improved mood. The authors stated that laughter exercises require little cognition and don’t rely on subjective humor, meaning most people can easily participate (Source 1).

Other studies have shown that laughing yoga may help temporarily reduce cortisol levels and stress, improve mood and energy levels, and induce a more positive mindset. In fact, it may be as effective as aerobic exercise at reducing self-reported stress (Source 2Source 3Source 4Source 5Source 6).”

Despite all the research, more large-scale studies need to be done to confirm the benefits. But in the meantime, a little laughter yoga probably wouldn’t hurt!

Check out the video below to see how you can get started. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Laughing Yoga: What Is It and Does It Work?” — Laughter Yoga

WTF Fun Facts 12723 – No Such Thing As A “Safe Tan”

It’s been decades since we’ve known that tanning beds cause cancer and yet some folks just can’t get enough. It doesn’t help that the tanning industry continues to tout the benefits despite copious scientific evidence that they’re unsafe at best (and, at worst, deadly).

Of course, sun exposure is damaging too, but some of us can’t avoid that – you actually have to walk in and pay for skin damage at a tanning salon dispute there being no physiological benefit (for example, there’s no such thing as a “healthy base tan”).

In addition, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine estimated that more than 3,200 people are treated for tanning-related injuries in US emergency rooms every year.

It’s hard to hear for many people as “tanning addition” becomes more of a problem, especially among young, white women.

But here are just a few facts from the American Academy of Dermatology Association to provide food for thought:

  • Even one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67%, and basal cell carcinoma by 29%).
  • Nearly 25% of young adults the Academy surveyed were unaware or unsure that tanning beds are not safer than the sun.
  • You can’t get enough vitamin D from tanning beds because the bulbs used emit mostly UVA light; however, your body needs UVB light to make vitamin D.
  • About 20% of 18- to 30-year-old white women who use tanning beds show signs of tanning addiction. When they don’t tan, they even report feeling fidgety or depressed.

And, finally, a Forbes article laid out the issues with indoor tanning as well as some research that shows our desire to tan may actually be influenced by genetics!  WTF fun facts

Source: “10 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT INDOOR TANNING” — American Academy of Dermatology Association

WTF Fun Fact 12682 – France’s Water Cures

Want a prescription to spend 3 weeks at a spa as part of your free healthcare? Become a French citizen! (Ok, that’s no easy task for most of us.)

The New Yorker just published an article that made us long for a doctor’s visit that ended in a “spa cure.” They say:

Let’s say that you suffer from arthritis, arthritis, bronchitis, bursitis, colitis, diverticulitis, endometriosis, laryngitis, osteoporosis, rhinitis, sinusitis, tendonitis, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Raynaud’s disease, multiple sclerosis, angina, asthma, sciatica, kidney stones, sore throat, dizziness, spasms, migraines, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, back pain, earaches, vaginal dryness, menstrual cramps, itching, bloating, swelling, constipation, gout, obesity, gum disease, dry mouth, psoriasis, acne, eczema, frostbite, hives, rosacea, scarring, stretch marks, or varicose veins, or that you are depressed, trying to quit smoking, or simply dealing with a lot of stress. You also, crucially, live in France. You go see the doctor. She writes you a prescription for a thermal cure, indicating to which of the country’s hundred and thirteen accredited thermal spas you will be sent. Then you fill out a simple form and submit it, along with the prescription, to the national healthcare service. Your application is approved—it almost always is—and you’re off to take the waters.

Ok, first of all, we have a hard enough time getting our medical care approved by our insurance company, we’d love to see their response to a thermal spa receipt for a sore throat. (Seriously, we mean that – we want it on camera.)

Yes, yes, the tax money. Of course. This is not an economic fun fact, because none of that discussion is fun. This is about notions of health and well-being – and you can call them kooky or brilliant, but it’s hard to deny that it’s also fascinating that these treatments – which date all the way back to the ancient world – are still practiced (and paid for) as part of mainstream(ish) medicine. Frankly, it dovetails nicely with much of what we know about the effects of stress and poor mental health on our physical health.

And wait, there’s more:

“The French government introduced “social thermalism” for the masses in 1947, proclaiming that “every man, whatever his social condition, has a right to a thermal cure if the state of his health demands it.” The full cure, consisting of treatments that use mineral water, mud, and steam from naturally occurring hot springs, lasts twenty-one days—six days of treatments with Sundays off, over three consecutive weeks. In 2019, around six hundred thousand French people undertook cures, targeting specific pathologies and subsidized by the state at sixty-five percent. Around three million more visited thermal spas as paying customers.” –  WTF fun fact

Source: “Seeking a Cure in France’s Waters” — The New Yorker

WTF Fun Fact 12442 – The Power of Forest Bathing

In Japan, it’s called Shinrin-Yoku. The act of “forest bathing” may have started there, but people around the world are starting to see the benefits of not just spending time in nature, but doing so intentionally (and, importantly, not through the lens of a smartphone).

Forest bathing studies have been shown to have measurable beneficial effects. Much of this research has been conducted by Dr. Qing Li, physician and immunologist at Nippon Medical School Hospital in Tokyo. In his studies, participants are not asked to jog or even kike, but merely practice awareness while out in the woods.

His studies have found forest bathing can decrease stress and blood pressure, slow the heart rate, speed up digestion, help with insomnia, and reduce fatigue. Perhaps more surprisingly are its effects on immunity, particularly NK (or natural killer) cells, which play a role in helping the body fight off the growth of cancerous cells.

Trees release volatile organic compounds known as phytoncides. When we breathe these in, we get more of these beneficial effects.

So next time you find yourself in nature, take a mindful walk, listen to the sounds, notice the colors and textures, and breathe deep amongst the trees. – WTF fun facts 

Source: “Cancer and Canopy: The Healing Power of Forest Bathing” — Spirituality & Health

WTF Fun Fact 12432 – Spring Fever

The dawn of spring brings mixed feelings and physical reactions. While some poets have long written about “spring fever” as something associated with romance, pleasure, and good spirits, others find March to be a little more gloomy.

You won’t find a doctor diagnosing you with spring fever, but if you notice a change in mood or energy as the days get longer, you’re not alone.

Many people welcome the dawn of spring weather and the return of sunshine. Their ability to spend more time outside is a mood-booster, and they feel restless to get things done after a long and dark winter. Interestingly, these good moods tend to decrease in the hot summer months.

Other less ideal symptoms of this so-called “spring fever” can include an increased heart rate, appetite loss, and mood swings.

Then there are those for whom spring is a curse and who might think of spring fever as the bad kind of fever. There may be some truth to this as well. Some experience a more depressed mood and lack of energy at the start of spring as their bodies adjust. One theory is that the body has used up so much of its serotonin reserves by the end of winter that it leaves people depleted. The return of sunlight helps re-make this serotonin, but the physical process and the hormonal fluctuations involved can cause lethargy.

Some researchers have even hypothesized that rising temperatures cause blood vessels to expand and lead to a drop in blood pressure, leading to headaches. Then there are the people who suffer from “reverse seasonal affective disorder.” The list of spring maladies goes on and on.

However, fever isn’t typically a symptom of any of these reactions, so spring “fever” is more of a nickname.

And don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the allergy sufferers! For so many of us, spring pollen and the swirling of dust particles that occurs as we open our windows again can be a real downer. While allergies don’t cause a fever either, sinus infections can. – WTF fun facts 

Source: “Does “Spring Fever” Exist?” — Scientific American