(CBS News) -The pandemic is sparking new interest in a type of exercise that is helping people lift their spirits.
Ute Devika leads groups in laughing and dancing at a park in Cairo, Egypt. It’s called laughter yoga, and during the seriousness of the pandemic, we could use a little of this medicine. “There is a lot of depression, there is a lot of anxiety, and people feel so super stressed. So, laughter is the solution to the problems we have right now,” Devika says.
Students get in some giggles using different exercises, like pretending to laugh at a joke.
With COVID restrictions, instructors around the world are moving their laughter yoga classes online.
There is real science to back up the benefits of laughter. Doctors in California tracked the effects of laughter on the brain and body. Research shows it lowers blood pressure and reduces the level of stress hormones. It also helps boost the immune system.
Devika says, “Laughter changes the biochemistry within minutes. We are swamped with endorphins and serotonin and happy-maker hormones.”
Many researchers believe forcing yourself to laugh has the same benefit, as the body cannot tell the difference between a fake giggle and a real one.