Laughing Matters

By Eve Lees


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Need a novel idea for a New Year’s resolution? How about laughing more often?

Hearty laughter works many muscles in your face and torso. Plus there’s an increase in vascular blood flow, allowing more efficient circulation of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. That's why we can feel exhausted after a long bout of laughter – we’ve just had an aerobic workout!

That doesn’t mean you should ditch your exercise program. So, keep your New Year’s resolution for this, if you need to start exercising! In the New Year, choose to more often watch the Comedy Channel or funny movies like Monty Python’s *Holy Grail*. Read the humour columns or blogs, search funny videos and clips on YouTube, download a laughter app on your phone, and get together more often with friends to laugh about old times.

Laughter boosts the immune system. When we're laughing, endorphins (the “feel good” hormones) are released. This lowers any circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol, allowing the increase of natural killer cells that destroy tumours and viruses. There is an increase of Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T lymphocytes, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies.

A few small studies found forced laughter may reap the same benefits as the real thing. It still seems to allow the release of endorphins, as a natural physiological response to the physical act of laughing. Research finds once the brain signals the body to laugh, the body doesn't care why. In one study, participants were tested for body tension and mood. They were instructed to laugh heartily for one minute before being tested again. All participants felt significantly relaxed and happier after 60 seconds of fake merriment.

Can’t fake it? Perhaps these health quotes can get you started…

The amount of sleep required by the average person is about five minutes more. (Wilson Mizener).

Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your children. (Sam Levenson).

You can’t get blood from a stone, but you can get a government grant to try. (Louis Phillips).

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals, dying of nothing. (Redd Foxx).

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office. (Covert Bailey).

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. (Mark Twain).

Only Irish coffee provides, in a single glass, all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. (Alex Levine).

Today my heart beat 103,309 times, my blood travelled 168,000,000 miles, I breathed 23,040 times, I inhaled 438 cubic feet of air, I spoke 4,800 words, moved 750 major muscles, and I exercised 7,000,000 brain cells. I’m tired. (Bob Hope).

 

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