Can you laugh your love handles off or shag yourself skinny? I know, it sounds too good to be true. And quite frankly it sounds more Cosmo than Care2, but according to a study about laughter, and a separately-authored book about sex and dieting, the answer is “yes, oh yes!” So what if french fries and ice cream are bad for you…if sex and laughter are good? Nature may not be so cruel after all. Amen.
Laugh and Lose
Laughter experts Dr. Lee S. Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan have discovered that laughing helps maximize many functions of various body systems. Berk and his colleagues were the first to establish that laughter helps optimize the hormones in the endocrine system, including decreasing the levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which lead to stress reduction. They have also shown that laughter has a positive effect on modulating components of the immune system.
Their studies have shown that repetitious “mirthful laughter,” causes the body to respond in a way similar to moderate physical exercise. Mirthful laughter enhances your mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL).
Berk, along with his colleague Dr. Jerry Petrofsky at Loma Linda University, and their team recently completed a new study on laughter and appetite, which was presented at the 2010 Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, CA.
In the three-week study to examine the effects that mirthful laughter and distress have on modulating the key hormones that control appetite, each subject was required to watch one 20-minute video at random that was either upsetting or humorous.
When the researchers compared the hormone levels pre- and post-viewing, they found that the volunteers who watched the distressing video showed no statistically significant change in their appetite hormone levels during the 20-minutes they spent watching the video.
In contrast, the subjects who watched the humorous video had changes in blood pressure and also changes in the leptin and ghrelin levels. Specifically, the level of leptin decreased as the level of ghrelin increased, much like the acute effect of moderate physical exercise that is often associated with increased appetite.
Berk explains, “The ultimate reality of this research is that laughter causes a wide variety of modulation and that the body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise.”
Repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise. How great is that?
The Skinny on Sex
Much like laughter, there are many health benefits associated with sex–including longer life spans, better cardiovascular health, higher pain tolerances, an improved immune system, and a lower rate of depression.
And guess what else: aerobically, a half-hour roll in the hay burns approximately 150–250 calories–and even up to 350 calories if you are especially…acrobatic. (Ahem.) This is about the equivalent of briskly walking, running, or lifting weights for thirty minutes. According to Forbes magazine, having sex just twice a week for a year will burn off the equivalent of seven hefty pasta dinners. And that doesn’t even address the muscle-toning that occurs. Okay, so run on a treadmill in a sweaty gym? Or tear up the sheets in a sweaty bed?
In The Ultimate Sex Diet (True Courage Press) author Kerry McCloskey confirms the that: sex is a great exercise, and the more exercise you do in general, the better your sex life will be. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego found that three to four one-hour workouts per week helped men achieve steadier, more satisfying sex sessions with their partners. And in a Harvard School of Public Health study, men who worked out vigorously for twenty to thirty minutes several times a week reduced their risk of erection problems by half.
Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin discovered that women’s genital blood flow after watching an X-rated film was much greater after exercising than it was without the workout. So essentially, the more you exercise, the more sex you have, and the more sex you have, the more exercise you are getting.
That is one of the most appealing vicious cycles I have ever heard of.
For more reasons to have sex…see: 5 Reasons to Have Sex Today.