Laughter the best medicine for quake-weary Cantabs

World Buskers Festival - North Hagley Park Crowd watching Mr Fish. Photo / Geoff Sloan
World Buskers Festival - North Hagley Park Crowd watching Mr Fish. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Quake-weary Cantabs belly-laughed in their droves at this month's World Buskers Festival, confirming for the region's top medical officer that laughter is still the best medicine.

An estimated 330,000 people attended the 2013 SCIRT World Busker's Festival over 11 days in Christchurch.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey said it was no surprise that people were taking time out to have a laugh. "Cantabrians intuitively know that laughter is the best medicine, which is why we have one of the longest life expectancies in New Zealand," he said.

He referred to a study published in the Journal of the American Psychosomatic Society that showed laughter could significantly increase life expectancy.

And although the study's results may have been "slightly skewed" since it was carried out on 54,000 Norwegians, Dr Humphrey said: "I didn't want to take any chances ...

so I took every opportunity to get down to the SCIRT World Buskers Festival and extend my life."

Dr Humphrey said another recent study carried out by Oxford University researchers and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, found that social laughter released endorphins which not only increased feelings of wellbeing but could increase pain tolerance.

The study also found that laughter and the resulting endorphins strengthened social bonds.

"As we approach the second anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake, what better way to aide our recovery than shaking with laughter at the SCIRT World Buskers Festival," he said.

Festival creative director Jodi Wright, who created the event 20 years ago, says that she feels putting on a good show for Cantabrians to have a laugh is important, now more than ever.

"It's so good to see the community coming together, having a good time, and having a good laugh.

"The festival is always great but Cantabrians probably appreciate it even more now after all we've been through.

"The big crowds have proven that we know it's alright to take time out from the recovery and have a good time."


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