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Fitness truly is a laughing matter, say docs who’ve discovered “mirthful laughter” can stimulate the appetite, lower blood pressure and stress and boost the immune system just as effectively as moderate exercise. “The body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise,”laughlightheaded FITNESS IS A LAUGHING MATTER

says study leader Dr. Lee Berk from Loma Linda University, California. “As the old biblical wisdom sates, it may indeed be true that laughter is a good medicine.” Scientists believe “laugercise” can help reduce heart disease and diabetes and is especially helpful to older folks who have a tough time performing more physical activities. In fact, Berk says that the high you get from a rib-tickling giggle fit is just like the endorphin rush brought on by exercise. For the study, volunteers watched 20 minute video a stressful clip of “Saving Private Ryan” or an extract from a comedy. The distressing war video had little effect, but blood samples showed watching the funny clip lowered blood pressure, reduced stress hormones and boost immune T cells. A good laugh also builds up the appetite in the elderly who tend to suffer from “wasting” due to depression and lack of activity. “The value of this research is that it may provide health care with new insights and understandings, and thus further options for patients who cannot use physical activity to normalize their appetite,” says Berk. “It’s fascinating that positive emotions translate into so many types of biological benefits.” (National Examiner)

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