I never thought I was an athletic person. I hated exercising. I figured, what’s the purpose of working out? To increase your heart rate? Personally, I find driving the wrong way against rush hour traffic really works up a sweat. JUST kidding. Hey, I’m here all week, try the veal.
No, I really do hate working out. I’m not a gym rat. However, I do like to walk. I like to take my brain for a walk about an hour every day. There is a Latin quote- often attributed to St. Augustine- that translated means “It is solved by walking.” It is used to refer to a problem that is solved by a practical experiment. I believe that when I start thinking too much, walking is the practical experiment that gets me out of my head. I feel healthier, more productive and creative when I return from a walk.
However, I realize that not everybody might have the time or be physically able to walk once a day for an hour. So, I started to research some lazy ways to work out. I was happy to stumble upon the psychological and physical benefits of laughter.
In 1969, William Fry, a leading Stanford University researcher in the psychology of laughter, discovered that laughing 200 times could burn as many calories as rowing for ten minutes.
Apparently, when we laugh, we work our six packs! Yay!
Dr. Helen Pilcher, a comedian with a PhD in biology, notes that uncontrollable laughter burns 120 calories per hour – the same as if we were walking. Geez, why am I even walking??
MORE HOLISTIC HAHA
Laughter creates happy chemistry in our bodies. Our immune, respiratory and circulatory systems all reap the rewards. Researchers at the University of Maryland found that when participants laughed over and over during a funny experiment, their circulation improved by 22 percent.
Laughter also increases our aerobic activity. While laughing, we take in more oxygen to our body and brain. Afterwards, we feel mentally and physically invigorated.
Professor Duncan Geddes, a consultant in respiratory medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, says that laughter stimulates the body’s defense mechanism, decreases pain and improves recovery times. Laughter releases chemicals in our brain cells called endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain killers.
Geddes observed that laughter helps fight diseases like allergies, arthritis, asthma, backache, bronchitis, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, hypertension and migraines.
Research at Oxford University also showed that laughter in participants improved tolerance to pain and lowered blood pressure.
The effects of laughter are phenomenal. Researchers at Loma Linda University in California performed a groundbreaking experiment using laughter. They took a group of participants and divided the group in two. They showed funny videos to one group and tourist videos to the other. The researchers then took samples of immune cells from each group and mixed them with cancer cells to see how each sample attacked the disease. The immune cells from the laughing group were more successful at fighting the disease than the immune cells from the group that wasn’t laughing!
Of course, skeptics are going to say, “Hey Jude, are you recommending laughter instead of lunges? Good try funny lady.”
Dr. Michael Miller from the University of Maryland Medical Center might agree with you.
Dr. Miller doesn’t recommend laughing instead of exercising but he does recommend that you try to laugh every day.
That, I wholeheartedly agree with! As Peter Ustinov once said, “Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”
On that note, please folks, I’m begging you – laugh long and prosper!