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Laugh Your Way to Better Health

By Paul Rothbart

There are very few people who don't like to laugh. Just look at the box office and ratings success of comedic films, plays, and television shows. Take it from a guy who made his living as a standup comic for more than a decade, people like funny. It's nice to have a distraction from life's little -- and not so little -- difficulties. A good joke can also be philosophical and illustrate a point more effectively doing it straight. No question, funny is good. But laughing is also very good for mental and physical health. Here are some good reasons to laugh it up. 

Laughter as Exercise

Just standing or sitting while laughing, how much exercise could that provide? More than you think. Laughing has quite a physiological effect on the body. Facial and torso muscles are stretched, respiration is increased, sending more oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Researchers have found that laughing has a very similar effect to a mild workout. William Fry, an early researcher in laugh therapy, found that he needed to work out for 10 minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the same level it did after just one minute of laughter. Laughter also burns some calories; 10-15 minutes of guffaws burns 50 calories. Although this is not the most effective way to lose significant weight, it is the most fun way to chip in a bit.

Other Effects of Laughter on the Body

The University of Maryland conducted an experiment where one group of people watched a comedy and a second watched a drama. At the end, the group who watched the comedy showed normally open blood vessels and healthy blood flow while the drama group tended to tense up and restrict blood flow. Another study showed that people with diabetes had lower blood sugar levels after watching a comedy than a group who sat through a tedious lecture. Laughing has also been found to relax the body and improve sleep.

Quality of Life

Laughing relieves stress and anxiety. It also tends to be a social activity and so encourages interaction with others. This is very good for enjoyment of life and mental health. Laughter provides a positive outlook that can increase confidence and self-esteem.

No question, laughing is one of the most pleasant sensations a person can experience. It's why a good comedy is so successful. Laughter has some nice benefits for physical and mental health. Plus, it's just plain fun!

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Monroe, La.

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