Laughter Exercise Going Mainstream

Well it’s taken a while, but the most mainstream of mainstream news organizations has declared that laughter is a form of exercise. If they’d watched Albert Nerenberg’s documentary film Laughology back when it was released by disinformation in 2010 their readers could have been happier and healthier by now. Oh well, here’s Gretchen Reynolds’ take in the New York Times:

Is laughter a kind of exercise? That offbeat question is at the heart of a new study of laughing and pain that emphasizes how unexpectedly entwined our bodies and emotions can be.

For the study, which was published this year in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers at Oxford University recruited a large group of undergraduate men and women.

They then set out to make their volunteers laugh.

Most of us probably think of laughter, if we think of it at all, as a response to something funny – as, in effect, an emotion.

But laughter is fundamentally a physical action. “Laughter involves the repeated, forceful exhalation of breath from the lungs,” says Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford, who led the study. “The muscles of the diaphragm have to work very hard.” We’ve all heard the phrase “laugh until it hurts,” he points out. That pain isn’t metaphoric; prolonged laughing can be painful and exhausting.

Rather like a difficult workout.

But does laughter elicit a physiological response similar to that of exercise and, if so, what might that reveal about the nature of exertion?

To find out, Dr. Dunbar and his colleagues had their volunteers watch, both alone and as part of a group, a series of short videos that were either comic or dryly factual documentaries…

[continues in the New York Times]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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3 Comments on "Laughter Exercise Going Mainstream"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Oct 26, 2012 at 12:09 am |

    it’s hard to have a bust a gut moment these daze
    my all time favorite bust a gut moment moments:
    the first time I smoked pot
    the first time I did schrooms
    the last time I did LSD
    Howard Stern in the 90’s
    the first time I heard Bill Hicks
    finding the Winnebago Man
    Al Murry the Pub Landlord, on American Dreamers
    Blazing Saddles
    Planes, Trains & Automobiles, I lived it before I saw it
    and a few other more personal, less describable moments
    that caused me to bust a gut
    Stanhope makes me laugh
    and you can’t help but guffaw at humanity’s foibles
    but those bust a gut moments are few and far between

    • Matt Staggs | Oct 26, 2012 at 8:03 am |

      Love Stanhope
      Joe Rogan
      Duncan Trussell
      These guys
      Make me laugh
      and think

      • BuzzCoastin | Oct 26, 2012 at 8:32 am |

        Rogan is good
        but thinking doesn’t give me belly laughs
        being out thought or surprised by insight does

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