There was a bunch of clowns at the statehouse today. No, that’s not a reference to legislators. Under the premise that laughter is the best medicine, the Iowa Department of Public Health has declared this “Laugh Out Loud Day.”
“Oh, I love to laugh,” says Mariannette Miller-Meeks, IDPH director. “One of the things I’m trying to teach my children is you have to learn to laugh at yourself, so it truly helps you get through life and through the rough spots, so you have to have a sense of humor.”
During the noon-hour event at the statehouse, “Buttons the Clown” put a shine on Governor Branstad’s shoes — with a flashlight. A group of third graders from the state’s “healthiest school” tossed beach balls around and did push-ups. Linda Walker, their teacher at Phoenix Elementary in West Des Moines, was smiling.
“It’s Laugh Out Loud Day,” she said, laughing. “Got to have fun while you learn.”
Andrea Boyd, the school’s principal, got hit in the head with a beach ball as she talked with reporters.
“We do an awful lot of laughing at Phoenix, staff and students,” she said, before getting hit in the head with a bouncing ball and laughing. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”
A 2009 study by cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center found laughter and an “active sense of humor” may help protect against a heart attack. The study found people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age who did not have heart disease.