Laugh your way to good health!

Hello and welcome everyone to the first blog post of the Food Coach Institute. I think this is a great topic to start off. There is so much doom and gloom around at the moment, a lot of people are suffering financially and we do need to remind ourselves that there is still a lot to be cheerful about.

So back to laughing. A recent study at a US conference on Experimental Biology reported that watching comedy could be good for our health. Study volunteers had their stress hormones, cholesterol and other blood chemicals measured before and after watching 20 minutes of comedy. There was a dramatic improvement in stress levels proving indeed that laughter is the best medicine.

The researcher who led the study, Dr Lee Berk, claims the body’s response to repetitive laughter may be similar to repetitive exercise. He suggests that the high from laughing is equivalent to an endorphin rush from exercise.

Laughter and Weight loss

Research published in the International Journal of Obesity found that a good laugh can raise your metabolic rate by 10-20 per cent. Whoopee! So 10-15 minutes giggling per day could lose you as much as 1kg of weight per year.

In his best selling book, Adaptation to Life, Dr George Vaillant, shows clearly that humour is the best defence against tough times. This book first printed in the 1970s is still in print today and shows that those who laugh longest seem to live longer and cope better with life along the way. But it doesn’t apply to those who laugh loudest. Laughter, like most things, suffers from the Goldilocks effect, in that too much is just as bad as too little. It needs to be just right. The quantity of laughter seems to max out at the middle range (level 2) and the health benefits are less at levels 1 and 3.

Now I’m really glad that this research supports my de-stressing mechanism. You see, I love stand-up and it’s a bit of a family ritual to go to local stand-up nights or watch our favourite comedy shows on TV. No matter how bad things seem after a rotten day at work, a good laugh at a 30 minute show or even a politician being interviewed can do you the world of good. Nothing seems so serious then and you can go to bed relaxed and topped up with endorphins.

It’s also part of my Irish background to see the funny side of things and enjoy a bit of craic. When I was growing up, no misfortune was so bad that the general response from family members was great belly-fulls of laughter and snorts of derision. I’ve had good training then – something to thank the parents for.

So if you see me striding down the street in my trainers, laughing my head off, you know it’s just me taking a workout , and if you don’t join me then you know who’s going to have the last laugh don’t you!