News: Sit on the couch, get some exercise

  Want to lose a few pounds? You may be able to forgo the treadmill and spend time watching your


Want to lose a few pounds? You may be able to forgo the treadmill and spend time watching your favourite funny movies instead.

At the recent Experimental Biology conference in California, Dr. Lee Berk’a researcher at Loma Linda University’s Schools of Allied Health (SAHP) and Medicine’presented findings from a new study, which suggests that repetitive ‘mirthful” laughter causes the body to react as though you’ve been engaging in moderate physical exercise. (Dr. Berk and his colleagues refer to this as "Laughercise.")

The study followed 14 healthy participants over three weeks to examine the impact that stress and laughter have on the hormones that control appetite. During each study, participants were asked to watch a 20-minute video clip’one stressful, and one funny. For the stressful clip, researchers chose Saving Private Ryan. For the funny clip, participants were allowed to select their own material.

Following the funny clips, researchers noted that there was a decrease in stress hormones in the particpants’ blood, as well as an increase in appetite-boosting hormones. However, there was no significant change after the distressing clip.

Berk, who has been studying the effects of laughter on the body since the 1980s, has found that "You can sit on the couch and get some of the same or similar benefits relative to exercise," such as lower blood pressure and improved mood. "As the old biblical wisdom states, it may indeed be true that laughter is a good medicine," Berk said in a news release.

As much as I’d like to skip Pilates and watch Adam Sandler movies, I’m not so sure that laughter alone will help me get ready for bikini season. But it definitely can’t hurt to give it a try! If you want to get in a little "Laughercise" at the office, check out the clip above featuring hilarious British comedienne, Catherine Tate.

What makes you laugh the most on a stressful day?

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