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Laughing Out Loud

January 20, 2013

Is laughter really the best medicine? Stand up routines or a good comedy film can really put one in a good mood, but can busting a gut really make you feel better and improve your health?

The internet has several articles and book excerpts on gelotology (the study of laughter and its psychological and physiological effects on the body). Laughter can give certain muscles a good work out like the diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles. It is suggested that on average an adult will burn anywhere from 10 – 40 calories for every 15 minutes of laughter. This of course is varied by a person’s weight and the intensity of the laugh.

Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. This would be particularly helpful this time of year with so many people sick.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemical.  They promote an overall sense of well being and can temporarily relieve pain.  One study found that laughter raised the pain tolerance of the test subjects by 10 percent. The type of laughter played a big part in the study. Polite giggles weren’t enough. To get any real results a good belly laugh was necessary.

Laughter is contagious and is just another way of being good to yourself. So what makes you laugh?

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