Laughter against obesity

  • 2010-09-22

“Laugh more often and louder” - this advice should be followed by everyone who is on a diet, because laughter helps to burn calories.
Actually, there is practically no humor in this tip. The report on the benefits of laughter was presented quite seriously to 2,000 delegates from 80 countries participating in the 4-day European congress on obesity. The author of the report is Maciej S. Buchowski, an American associate professor of Polish origin, who works at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

He believes that he and his colleagues were the first who have decided to find out how much energy it takes to laugh. So, according to Buchowski, 10-15 minutes of genuine laughter can burn 10 to 50 calories, which is equivalent to a medium size chocolate bar. To find this out, he conducted an experiment with the participation of volunteers among students.

The researchers invited 90 volunteers - 45 pairs of friends. Young people were left in a room that looks like a room in a cheap hotel. In reality, it was a so-called metabolic chamber. It measures how much oxygen a person inhales, and how much carbon dioxide he breathes out - thus, the scientists measured the consumption of energy.

In addition, the room has equipment that monitors heart rate and records all sounds. The volunteers were seated in a chair watching television, they were not allowed to move and speak, so they do not waste energy. They were also misled – they were told that the aim of the experiment is to study the emotional reactions to various videos.

“It’s not so easy to catch genuine laughter, - Buchowski explained. - Because if you tell people that you are going to measure laughter, they will laugh. And intentionally induced laughter is regulated by a totally different part of the brain. We wanted the laughter to be genuine.” The first thing we needed to know was the metabolic rate of students in a relaxed state. Scientists have shown them the video of English countryside: “First you need to have a half an hour of something boring, so we have chosen the English scenery,” - said the doctor.

The next phase lasted more than an hour for each group of volunteers. On the screens they saw a 10-minute piece of comedy, then 5 minutes of wistfully wandering sheep, then another 10 minutes of comedy and so on. The researchers observed separately seven pairs of male friends, 17 pairs of females and 21 mixed couples (to detect differences).
In the end, the data on the heart rate, recorded laughter and breathing information were assembled in the laboratory and carefully analyzed. It turned out that the young men laughed more than girls. The longest laughter lasted for 40 seconds. And scientists have found out that when people laugh, there is approximately a 20 percent increase in the metabolic rate.

“When laughing, the students burned 20% more calories - said Buchowski. - Then we tried to figure out what would happen if someone laughed for 10 or 15 minutes a day, and found that this would burn up to 50 calories, depending on body size and intensity of the laughter.

“Laugh more and this will allow you to lose weight.” - Buchowsky advises. We can add that, of course, laughing alone is not so fun and may be a little awkward. But with a witty, funny book or a television program there is nothing wrong in having fun alone. Finally, please keep in mind that only humans can smile. The only ones on the planet. Do not hide your smile!