Laugh It Off: Losing Weight with Laughter


By Allen Klein, MA, CSP (aka Mr. Jollytologist®)


"You know it's time to cut down on calories when you step on the scale and the readout says, One at a time, please!"

- Anonymous

Many of us tend to gain a few extra pounds from time to time, especially around the holiday season. Then we make a resolution to diet but that often doesn't work. But donut despair, laughter is here. Exercising your sense of humor can actually help you shed those extra pounds.

Several years ago, scientists found that a hearty laugh is a calorie burner. They discovered that 10 to 15 minutes of belly laughter can burn off the number of calories found in a medium square of chocolate. In other words, a good belly laugh can actually reduce the size of your belly.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, recruited 45 couples. They played comedy clips for them and measured how many calories they burned when they laughed.

The volunteers were told that they were being tested for emotional reactions to various video clips. "We didn't tell them that the goal of the study was to measure laughter, because then they might have forced it and we wanted it to be genuine laughter," said the lead researcher, Maciej Buchowski, director of bionutrition at Vanderbilt.

The volunteers relaxed in their reclining chairs and watch what was on the screen. "First it was half an hour of something boring - an English landscape," Buchowski said. "During that time we measured the baseline, the resting metabolic rate." Then they viewed five different comedy clips for 10 minutes each, interspersed with five minute intervals of sheep wandering around fields in England.

The results of the research showed that the participants "burned 20 percent more calories when laughing, compared to not laughing." Depending on body size and how hard a person laughs, researches calculated that if somebody laughed from 10 or 15 minutes a day they could burn up to 50 calories. In other words, if you laughed for 10-15 minutes a day, you'd burn enough calories to lose about 4.4 pounds in a year.

Laughter may not exactly be an effective way to shed extra pounds but it's a sure fun way to try.

And to start you laughing, here is short excerpt from Nancy Cohen's list of "What I Learned About Cooking Last Night":

  • You shouldn't dry lettuce leaves with a blow-dryer.
  • If you need to thaw ice cream, nine minutes in the microwave is too long.
  • Do not put keys in key lime pie.

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2012 Allen Klein. All Rights Reserved.