‘Being fit’ is now a major campaign worldwide as people realize the importance of a complete well-being which helps to accomplish success and peak performance in every field of work. Modern lifestyle, daily stressors and lack of time has rendered life more sedentary. It includes less of exercising, unhealthy food and damaging habits such as drinking, smoking and the use of drugs. This harmful existence exposes people to major lifestyle diseases like hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes, obesity and more.
Why Laughter Can Help
Physical fitness stemming from laughter is a benefit known to few. When you laugh, all your body systems are affected in a positive manner. It is particularly important for seniors as well as bedridden or wheelchair-bound people. It is a unique way to enhance one’s daily wellbeing.
Laughing provides low impact exercise and burns calories without special equipment, environment or clothing. Laughing boosts blood and lymph circulation and distributes oxygen around your body. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, tones the abdomen, diaphragm, intercostal, respiratory accessory, musculo-skeletal system, midsection, muscles in the back, abdominal organs and intestinal tract. It even provides a good workout for the heart and lungs.
The diaphragm is the only muscle in the body attached to other muscles. This is why laughter jogs all your internal organs. The mere act of laughing exercises the diaphragm, as well as the abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles.
Watch this video documenting the positive impact of laughter exercises on dialysis patients.
Professor A. Berk of Johns Hopkins University writes, “Laughing creates a total body response that is clinically beneficial. It exercises the facial, chest, abdominal, and skeletal muscles and improves their tone (Paskind, 1932), which can be particularly important for bedridden or wheelchair-bound older people.”
Michael Miller, M.D. (Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center) agrees and said after a study on the health impact of laughter “The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains and muscle tension associated with exercise. We don’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise, but we do recommend that you try to laugh on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.”
A New Zealand study showed that laughter could be as effective as running in boosting health. Their study, which was presented at the European Congress on Obesity, also reported that test subjects burned 20 percent more calories when watching clips of the “Bill Cosby Show” than when watching a video of sheep grazing in an English meadow. To do this, they fitted 100 volunteers with heart rate monitors and had them watch the two different clips in a specially designed room, known as a metabolic chamber, which enabled the investigators to measure the difference in the amount of oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled in each volunteer while they watched the clips. After reviewing their data, they found that laughing raises energy expenditure and increases the heart rate 10 to 20 percent.
We are not claiming that solid therapeutic approaches to laughter such as Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga are a sport that can replace a workout and one should laugh instead of exercise. Laughter is a low-impact activity after all and you are unlikely to build muscle mass laughing. But sweating profusely and building strong muscles is not what exercise is all about, or is it?
While many forms of exercise may leave you tired, Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga sessions leave you bursting with energy and ready for anything. They make working out fun, not tedious. (People who are having fun rarely look at the clock!)
Heiko Wagner, Ulrich Rehmes, Daniel Kohle & Christian Puta (2014). Laughing: A Demanding Exercise for Trunk Muscles, Journal of Motor Behavior, 46:1, 33-37, DOI: 10.1080/00222895.2013.844091