Whoever said comedy wasn’t a workout lied. In fact, laughing has been proven to burn calories.
I know this sounds like a ruse. But even Vanderbilt University Medical Center agrees with me.
During a research study, they found that 15 minutes of laughter burns between 10 and 40 calories a day. And the International Journal of Obesity published similar findings.
Depending on the person’s weight and intensity of their laughter, they can lose between 1 to 4 lbs per year. Funny how a little humor can literally lighten the load.
But how exactly does the body manage to burn calories while laughing? Keep reading below to find out.
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The science behind laughing
Everything we do burns calories. Even eating, exercising, and sleeping. But laughing causes your heart rate to rise.
While laughing, your heart rate may rise by 10 to 20 percent. And as your heart rises, so does your metabolism.
An increased metabolism means that you will continue to burn calories even after the fact. So when you’re done laughing, your body will continue to burn calories on its own while you rest.
This is not to say that the gym is entirely out of the question for your fitness journey. But laughing even just 15 minutes a day can lead to a healthy lifestyle.
The length of time spent laughing and the intensity of that laughter also matters. So, in other words, if you have a long, good laugh, you’ll reap greater life effects.
But there are a variety of benefits that laughter can induce. So let’s get into the specifics of how laughter can benefit your health.
The health benefits of laughing
Laughing isn’t generally prescribed to patients who might suffer from a number of afflictions. But it has long been touted as the best medicine.
Below are just some of the many benefits of laughing. And they will surely fit the criteria for a clean bill of health.
Reduced muscle tension
Laughing reduces tension. And not just awkward tension that fills the air when a joke falls flat. But literal physical tension held in the body.
The increased movement from laughing forces your muscles to loosen up. You know how some people laugh when they’re nervous? This is the body’s way of telling them to let go.
Increased blood oxygen
Laughter requires breath. So taking in more air actually increases the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Increasing your oxygenation levels helps to reduce stress and boosts your immune system. And it is also said to improve mental clarity and intelligence.
We all love those happy little dolphins that swim inside our brains. But really, endorphins are the happy chemicals that give us a sense of high.
Endorphins are produced when you exercise the heart. So an increased heart rate from laughing will also help you feel high and floaty from exercise and joy.
Increased heart rate
An increased heart rate alone helps the body burn more calories. But this is not to say that laughter is the key to weight loss alone.
To burn a single pound, you would need to laugh for twelve hours straight. But a more positive attitude can help you stick to a weight loss and exercise regimen better.
Loma Linda University found that laughing can actually raise the level of immunoglobulins in the body. These proteins help boost the immune system.
With a stronger immune system, you’ll decrease your risk for disease. And you’ll be able to fight fatigue and exhaustion much better.
Research from Johns Hopkins Medical School explored the effects of humor in the classroom. When classroom settings were infused with laughter, students improved their test scores. Talk about free tutoring.
It is likely that students are able to absorb more information when they are at ease. So laughing burns not only calories but any stress that might be hindering their learning process.
A UCLA research study also found that laughing helps with pain tolerance. With endorphins running, the body can ease its response to chronic pain and anxiety.
So those who were made to laugh in the research study also had an increased pain threshold. It’s just as they say. Laughter a day keeps the pain at bay.
Decreased stress hormones
Are you familiar with that lovely hormone cortisol? You know, the one that prompts you to stress eat and lowers your metabolism while storing fat?
Laughing actually allows the body to de-stress naturally. So cortisol levels decline as your metabolism increases.
Tips for laughing more in your day
Now you know the benefits of laughter. But how do you make sure that you laugh for at least 15 minutes a day?
Below are some tips for how to incorporate laughter and entertainment into your everyday.
#1. Fall in love with your laugh
Some people hate their laugh. They think it’s too loud, nasally, or just obnoxious. But loving your laugh will encourage you to laugh more.
Besides, your laugh is an integral piece of you. Don’t be afraid to share it with the world. And in doing so, you’ll benefit your health and fitness as well.
But if that’s not enough to convince you, think of it this way. Loving your laugh will also make you love your body.
With laughter that burns calories, you can tighten your core muscles and burn belly fat. Sure, laughing won’t make you lose a significant amount of weight.
But being able to laugh at ourselves gives us permission to be happy. Don’t think of laughter as the key to weight loss.
Instead, think of it as the key to health and happiness.
#2. Don’t try to be funny
Everyone has a different sense of humor. And there’s no harm in that! But trying to be funny for the sake of others won’t help you in the long run.
We all have that one person who saves their laughter for special occasions. But don’t waste your time trying to crack a smile out of them. Focus on what brings you joy, even if others don’t find it funny.
They say laughter is the best medicine. But that doesn’t mean everyone has to take that medicine the same way.
Make sure that your 15 minutes of laughter is the right kind of laughter for you. You may even attract others with similar senses of humor to share a good laugh with.
#3. Look for the humor in everything
This tip comes down to perspective. If you convince yourself that everything is awful, everything will be awful. But that’s why seeking out humor is so important.
The opportunity to laugh is there if only we let it in. So look for those moments throughout your day and you may find yourself laughing just a little bit more.
This might mean that you take a break to rest out of your workday. Watch a silly video or call up a person who makes you laugh.
Taking that rest out of your day will help you cope with anything and everything else. With your blood oxygen raised by 20 percent, you’ll literally feel lighter and ready to tackle all else.
#4. Access your inner child
Kids are taught to play pretend and make-believe all the time. They are given permission to play.
But why can’t grown-ups and adults do the very same thing? When do we lose this ability to play pretend with ourselves?
Challenge yourself to access that inner child again. Try being goofy for 10 to 15 minutes out of your day.
It might feel silly at first. But just take note of how much better you feel afterward.
A person can free themselves from the monotony of daily life. Just give yourself the permission to play and you may find yourself laughing in no time.
#5. Fake it anyway
The American Physiological Society published a finding that it is not just laughter that changes the body’s chemistry. It is the anticipation of laughing as well.
This means that the brain is getting prepped to feel happier. So it becomes happier by default.
In fact, the brain will even respond positively to laughter even if it is faked. So the next time someone tells you an unfunny joke, laugh anyway.
Not only will you burn calories in the process. Laughter a day for 10 to 15 minutes will teach your brain to be happier and healthier.
And most often, if you start by faking it, you’ll end up giggling from the very exercise of laughter. So try inducing your own laughter too.
Implement those hearty ho-ho-hos and hee-haws into your laugh. Make yourself laugh and lose your inhibitions. Your true laughter will inevitably shine through.
#6. Spend time with people who make you laugh
This is the easiest way to incorporate laughing into your day. But sometimes, we make the excuse of scheduling and busy conflicts.
No more excuses. Make the time to spend with that special person who hits your funny bone.
Do it for your health. And don’t lose out on a valuable friendship that is based on laughter.
Think about the many calories you already burn just by sitting at a desk. Now think about how many more burning calories you can stack up by laughing with a friend.
Renegotiate your time to make for a healthy lifestyle. You may find that there are less important things than laughing with a friend in life.
#7. Use laughter to bring folks together
Some folks use laughter and jokes as a weapon. They might even literally use their jokes to burn others, but not to burn their own carbs. But that seems to go against the whole point of laughing in the first place.
If you see that happening, make the conscious effort to bring folks together like a seasoned emcee, not divide them apart. Mold the laughter to fit the needs of the group. And you may find yourself being the valiant and funny hero.
Nobody deserves to be picked on. And nobody deserves to be laughed at by a group of others too insecure to laugh at themselves.
Laughing provides a number of health benefits. So don’t waste those benefits on being vindictive towards others.
#8. Bring some joy into your workspace
We know that office spaces are designated for getting work done. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be fun in spirit.
Try keeping fun trinkets on your desk that brings you joy. Or, keep silly photos on your phone to look at when you need a lift.
Sometimes that moment of reprieve can help your productivity overall. And you may become that resident office clown others enjoy spending time with.
Just because you’re at your place of work doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy. If the culture is too serious, try lightening the mood. Take the weight out of the room and encourage others to let go a bit.
Trick yourself into being happier and healthier
While the benefits of laughing sound rather immediate, there are still many long-term benefits to laughter. Many will link burning calories to weight loss. But the body moves beyond the billboard advertisement of a slimmer figure.
And if you’re viewing laughter as a remedy for weight loss, try shifting your perspective. Physically, you’re only burning up to 10 and 40 calories a day by laughing. So try not worrying about the calories after all.
But laughing encourages you to view life as a funny thing. And that humor is integral for your overall health.
The world itself can be rather heavy. But having the capacity to laugh about it teaches us that it’s healthy to let go.
At the end of the day, it hardly matters whether laughing burns many calories or not. Because a good laugh can improve your health and overall outlook on life.
Keep Reading: How To Do Stand Up Comedy for the First Time
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular virtual comedian, magician, and virtual speakers for hire.