Fact File: Laughter

Laughter is a tranquilizer with NO side-effects!

Laughing is a reaction to certain stimuli, fundamentally stress, which serves as an emotional balancing mechanism. Traditionally, it’s considered a visual expression of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy. It may ensue from hearing a joke, being tickled, or other stimuli. It is in most cases a very pleasant sensation.

Recent investigations suggest that laughter is a form of communication.

Here’s how many calories you will burn (using a 150-pound (68-kilogram) person as an example) by doing the following activities for 15 minutes:

  • Biking over 20 mph (32 kph): 273
  • Jogging: 171
  • Stationary bike: 170
  • Downhill skiing: 102
  • Ballroom dancing: 77
  • Gardening: 68
  • Shooting pool: 42
  • Shopping: 40
  • Driving: 34
  • Typing: 25
  • Reading: 22

Laughing helps burn calories by increasing your heart rate by 10 to 20 percent. Your metabolism increases as well, meaning you will burn more calories at rest once you have stopped laughing.

While the idea that we can melt our waistlines by laughing is an appealing one, we better not cancel our gym memberships just yet. Laughing for 15 minutes a day (and not necessarily all at once) burns somewhere between 10 and 40 calories a day . That means that, so long as you’re laughing, you can eat three — maybe even four — unsalted crackers without any guilt whatsoever.

Over the course of a laughter-filled year, the daily calories burnt from laughing result in a net loss of a little more than 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms). To add even more perspective to this, you burn more calories each day just by drinking eight glasses of water (70 calories).

Some of the benefits of laughing:

  • Distraction: Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other mere distractions.
  • Internal Workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
  • Hormones: Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones likecortisol, epinephrine(adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.

Few simple steps for having more laughter in your life:

1: Smile more: Simple but true.  Research shows that not only does smiling make you feel happy, the more you smile, the more likely you are to laugh.  Within a surprisingly short period of time smiling becomes a habit and not only will you smile more, you’ll happily discover that you laugh more as well.  So go ahead, wipe that smile ON your face.

2: Discover What makes you laugh: We all laugh at different things.  Discover what works for you and make sure you have more of it in your life. You might like to keep a note book handy to write down all those ‘I don’t believe I saw (or heard ) that’ things that strike your funny bone so you can read them back when your day is not so filled with laughter.

3:Start a happy conversation: Instead of asking people how their day was, start your conversation by asking ‘What made you laugh today?  When people ask you how your day has been make sure the first thing you tell them about is something that made you smile or giggle.

4: Spend more time with people who make you laugh:  Did you know that emotions are contagious?  Spend less time with those who drain your energy and more time with people who make you smile and laugh.

5: Don’t take yourself so seriously: Shirley McLean once said that ‘a person who can laugh at themselves will never cease to be amused’.  Let’s Laugh friend and American ‘Joyologist’ Allen Klein, reminds us that “Humour is nature’s way of giving us perspective on a situation.  Humour helps us to keep our balance when life throws us a curve ball.”  Try to find the humour in all the things that happen during your day.

6: Create a positive environment: The places where we spend our days have a huge impact on the way we feel.  If you work at a desk you might like to put up a joke of the day, a funny quote or a photo that makes you smile.  If your day is more mobile carry a funny photo or silly quote with you or put a something that makes you smile and laugh on your key ring or bag.

7: Learn from the children: Children really know how to laugh.  They know that life was meant to be fun and it’s well known that they learn more effectively when they’re enjoying themselves.  Their lives haven’t become crowded with all the commitments that come with being growing ‘up’.  Rediscover your sense of childlike play, your inner child.  Do something every day that surprises and delights you.  Set aside a few minutes a day, or, depending on where you find your fun, a couple of hours each week, to do something that you really enjoy, something that is fun, something that is just for YOU.

It only takes 15 minutes of laughter a day to have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing ;-)

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