“People who laugh actually live longer than those who don’t laugh. Few persons realise that health actually varies according to the amount of laughter.” — James Joseph Walsh
Ah, Jolly Father Christmas. I got to thinking about his iconic Ho Ho Ho laugh the other day (while groaning inwardly at the imminent workload that comes with the festive season,) and then got curious about the calorie burn rate of laughter. Ten minutes later down that rabbit hole, and I found out that 15 minutes of laughter a day burns 10-40 calories — depending, of course, on the quality of the joke — which is enough to lose up to 2kg a year. Jolly good cheer, indeed.
Laughing also brings blood pressure down and is even more successful at doing so than listening to music. It suppresses stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, and reduces heart disease. Part of it must have to do with the physical act of laughing: a really good guffaw increases our heart rate, our respiratory rate, and induces us to take in more oxygen — all similar effects with exercising. It’s even credited with reducing artery inflammation and promoting the production of ‘good cholesterol’. Laughing, as it turns out, quite literally protects the heart.
There’s also the psychological benefits, of course. Social laughter engenders trust and builds friendships. It can even elevate our pain threshold. Of course, having a good sense of humour is all part of it, and building one includes learning how to take ourselves less seriously. It’s as much to do with building resilience and honing our coping mechanism to take on the hard knocks in life, and it’s no wonder that humour is also attributed to improved optimism and self-esteem.
‘Tis the season. It’s the home stretch now till the end of the year, DC Fitters! I raise my fortifying wine glass to you and wish you many moments of good humour and bellyaching laughter.