60-Second Science

Laughing Proves As Effective As Exercise

Recent research shows that laughter can produce the same health benefits as physical exercise. Karen Hopkin reports

[Clip of Rodney Dangerfield saying “It’s not easy being me; when I was born the doctor told my mother, ‘I did all I could, but he pulled through anyway.’”]

Rodney mighta felt bad…but he should make you feel good, because a new study shows that laughter can produce the same health benefits as physical exercise. That euphoric finding was presented at the 2010 Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim.

The idea that a good guffaw might be good for you surfaced in the 1970s. Since then, mirth has been shown to reduce stress and even boost immunity.

To continue cataloguing the health benefits of hilarity, scientists at Loma Linda University had volunteers watch a video: either 20 minutes from a funny movie or stand-up routine. And the researchers found that laughing along with some light-hearted comedy actually lowered volunteers’ blood pressure. And it altered their appetite hormones in the same way that moderate exercise would. 

Like a good joke, the study bears repeating. But the results suggest you might make giggling part of your fitness regime. So go ahead, LOL. Or for a full workout, ROTFL. But if you’re gonna ROTFLPMP, well, you should wear extra-absorbent workout pants.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is an exact transcript of the audio in the podcast.]

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