Laughter is truly the best medicine says new research

A new study has shown that laughter may be one of the simplest exercises that has similar effects on the body as pumping iron in the gym. Researchers have named “Laughercise” as significant elevators of mood, stress busters, immunity boosters and blood pressure and cholesterol reducers. It can also stimulate appetite for the malnourished.

US scientists led by Californian physician Dr Lee Berk had earlier shown the beneficial effects of laughter on mood, stress, immunity, cancer, blood pressure and cholesterol. In this new study Dr. Berk and colleagues have again shown the benefits of laughter which are akin to repetitive exercises. “The parallel between moderate exercise and mirthful laughter is uncanny,” said Dr. Berk.

The study included 14 healthy volunteers who for three weeks were asked to watch two 20-minute videos designed to be either distressing or humorous. Distressing video was taken from the Second World War movie Saving Private Ryan. The laughter video had various options including performances by stand-up comedians and scenes from comedy movies. All participants saw both videos with a week's gap in between to ensure their effects did not overlap. The scientists then checked on their blood pressure and other parameters. They also checked the blood levels of two appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin.

The results showed that distressing videos had no effects on the hormones but watching the humorous clip both caused changes in blood pressure and led levels of leptin to decrease as those of ghrelin went up. Similar findings are seen after moderate physical exercise. Berk said, “When leptin goes down, it increases appetite…When ghrelin goes up, it increases appetite.”

Dr. Berk said, “The ultimate reality of this research is that laughter causes a wide variety of modulation, and that the body's response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise. The value of the research is that it may provide for those who are healthcare providers with new insights and understandings, and thus further potential options for patients who cannot use physical activity to normalize or enhance their appetite.” “The second application is for wellness,” he added while saying that laughing while working out may also help in improving your psyche as well as health in general.

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