Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Can Iowa become the healthiest state in the USA by 2016? This is the challenge that has been set forth by the Healthiest State Initiative. This privately led public initiative is intended to inspire Iowans to improve their health and happiness. 

According to the 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, Iowa is #16 in the nation when it comes to being physically, emotionally and mentally healthy. While this is great, Iowans are ambitious to do better. That’s why the goal is to claim the #1 spot by 2016. 

Since well-being includes both physical and emotional health – and laughter contributes to both – the governor’s office declared Monday, April 2, as Laugh Out Loud Day (LOL for short) in Iowa. Throughout the month, Iowans have focused on laughter as a tool to improve health.

The MFL Mar-Mac school district participated in this statewide initiative by inviting me to offer an interactive educational program for the 6th through 8th grade students. On Friday, April 27th, I addressed the kids at an all-school assembly. I explained to the students that among other things, laughing heartily helps manage stress, boosts heart health, relieves pain naturally, strengthens immunity, supports emotional health, expands creativity, reduces hay fever and may even lengthen life.

Then the group engaged in an all-out  LOL exercise workout. Students and faculty shook hands and laughed. They gave each other laughing shocks, chortled with evil-sounding laughter, performed the sprinkler dance with laughter and behaved like laughing elephants, super heroes powered by laughter, hilarious space aliens, and giggling fish. The school gym rang out with many bursts of full-belly laughter as you can tell by the pictures below.

Sixth grade language arts teacher, Steph Jones commented: "Bringing Laughter Yoga into the school day to celebrate LOL Month was a refreshing experience for the students and gave them a healthy opportunity to share laughter with their peers. It was fun to interact with the students in a different setting and a great way to end the week!"

The young people went home with new wisdom about why and how to laugh more. Laughing is so contagious. They discovered that you don't actually need jokes or comedy to laugh. If you just initiate it in a group, you can go on laughing for a long time. Not only is this fun, it strengthens your overall health and well-being.

So if you are in my area and happen to see a middle school student greeting his friend with a laugh or rolling on the ground laughing for no apparent reason,  you’ll know he’s not just being a silly kid. He’s doing his part to contribute to Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative and you may as well join him. With this kind of playful enthusiasm, it won’t take long for us to become the most healthy state in the nation. 

To learn more, visit www.iowahealthieststate.com.

Laughing with the Middle School students
Doing a yogic breathing exercise 
The boys doing "Super Hero" laughter
The whole mob Laughs out Loud!
Doing the Laughter Greeting
Student volunteers helping me demonstrate Library Laughter

 Thank you to Mr. Scott Boylen for these photographs!

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