The Health Benefits of Laughter

o-two-black-women-laughing-together-facebook1Forget sit-ups, weight training and running – if you want a super-fit body, just have a LAUGH.

Watching sitcoms and laughing out loud can improve cardiovascular health, increase heart rate and help weight loss, according to a new report that reviews academic research into the effects of laughter. Apparently people who laugh loudest and longest will get fit quickest – burning up to 120 calories an hour. Laughter is an aerobic activity that has previously been shown to burn calories (Miller and Fry 2009). It’s estimated that 15 minutes of laughter per day can increase total energy expenditure by up to 40 calories.

Entertainment TV channel Dave commissioned Dr Helen Pilcher and Timandra Harkness from the Comedy Research Project, an independent group that researches gelotology (the science of laughter) to compile the report.

Pilcher and Harkness identified five different intensities of laughter, ranging from the ‘Howler’ (“intense, involuntary and uncontrollable”) to the ‘Snigger,’ where “joyful snorts signal a positive reaction to a comedy scenario”, and estimated the calories associated with each type. They then went on to predict the calorie loss that could be achieved from laughing at a number of different comedy shows.


The Howler – Flat out, uncontrollable, roll on the floor laughter can burn up to 120 calories per hour


The Belly Buster – Hearty belly laughs can burn up to 100 calories per hour.


The Giggle – Getting the giggles can burn up to 33 calories per hour.


The Chuckle – Irrepressible chuckling can burn up to 20 calories per hour.


The Snigger – Sniggering can burn up to 10 calories per hour.


Based on these findings, they have devised propose two new laughter-based weight loss regimes:


The ‘Hyena’

This advocates lengthy bouts of extreme laughter, and has the potential to burn an extra 130 calories per day.


To burn off an extra stone over the course of a year, the average adult has to consume around 49,000 fewer calories than normal, or expend 49,000 extra calories without eating any more.


Per day, that means you will need to laugh away an extra 134 calories. To achieve this, you need to do 22 minutes of howling (41 calories), 30 minutes of belly laughs (50 calories), an hour of giggling (33 calories), and half an hour of chuckling (10 calories).


*As with any form of exercise, don’t forget to warm up first. Try some gentle sniggering and chuckling before you embark on strenuous belly laughs and howling with laughter.


Shape up for Spring (Cleaning)

This recommends mixing laughter with housework to augment the calorie-burning effects of mirth.


Like laughter, housework is an aerobic activity, so it can be used to supplement the calorie-crunching effects of mirth. It’s also highly compatible with enjoying TV comedy.


So 60 minutes of ironing (160 calories) + 15 minutes chuckling (5 calories), 30 minutes giggling (16.5 calories) and 15 minutes of belly busters (25 calories) = 206.5 calories.


This is to be followed by 60 minutes of vacuuming (246 calories) + 15 minutes chuckling (5 calories), 30 minutes belly laughs (50 calories) and 15 minutes of howling with laughter (30 calories) = 331 calories.


That’s a total of 537.5 calories in just two hours, without even leaving the house or changing out of slippers. Just one week of that regime would leave you approximately 1lb lighter – and a much cleaner house.


After around a calendar month you could be 4.6 pounds (1/3 stone) lighter, more toned, fitter, and crease-free from your socks to your tea towels.


So our motto is – forget slogging it out in the gym surrounded by Lycra-clad Adonis’ and start laughing – the more you laugh, the fitter you’ll be!