Laughter is Relaxing
by Henry Reed


"Being weak with laughter is no joke," reports Reuters Health news service. Laughing causes our muscles to go limp, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet. Researchers at Leiden University used a neurological reflex to study the effect of laughter on muscular activity. Tapping the shinbone causes the calf muscle to reflexively contract. When volunteer subjects were laughing, the reflex disappeared. When they were merely smiling, there was no effect.

One of the researchers, Dr. G.J. Lammers, noted that the phrase, "weak with laughter" exists in several languages. "Up to 15.5% of individuals reported muscle weakness during various emotions," he said. The researchers speculated that their study might shed new light on a condition known as cataplexy, where strong emotion causes muscle weakness so severe that the person collapses.



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