Laugh your way to health

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Can’t be bothered to work out? Try having a good laugh. It’s thought to have the same benefits as a mild workout.

When we laugh we stretch muscles in our face and body and our pulse and blood pressure increase, sending vital oxygen to our organs and tissues. William Fry (another laughter investigator) reckons it took ten minutes on a rowing machine to get his heart rate to the same level as one minute of a good guffaw.

Another study showed laughing for 10-15 minutes burnt about 50 calories (about one piece of chocolate). Don’t get too excited though, you would have to laugh for 12 hours to burn off half a kilo of fat!

Other purported benefits of a good giggle include:

  • Better blood flow.
  • Improved blood sugars
  • Immune boosting. This is thought to be because of the reduction in stress laughter creates. Which DOES NOT hold true if you have ever been tickled to the point of laughing until you are crying – which is apparently difficult to do after the age of 40 when we become more ‘tickle proof’ (lucky I’m still only 35 – plus GST).
  • Better relaxation and sleep.
  • Pain reduction. In his book, “Anatomy of an Illness”, Norman Cousins, (world peace advocate and journalist) who was diagnosed with heart disease and ankylosing spondylitis (a painful arthritic condition) attributed Marx brothers movies to pain free episodes. “I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep.”