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Fit of the giggles; Scientists show how sitcoms beat sit-ups when it comes to toning your abs and burning calories.


IT'S often said that laughter is the best medicine.

We already knew it can lower stress hormones, boost your immunity and your mood.

But new research highlights how laughing can improve your cardiovascular health, raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Scientists say belly laughs can help tone your abs - perhaps more effectively than sit ups.

Research commissioned by UKTV channel Dave says watching sitcoms and laughing out loud help people to lose weight and tone their stomach - all from the comfort of a sofa.

The report has been written by Dr Helen Pilcher and Timandra Harkness from the Comedy Research Project. And they've come up with laughter-based weight-loss regimes.

Using the research in the field of gelotology - the science of laughter - Pilcher and Harkness identified five different intensities of laughter and estimated the calories burned by each - from uncontrollable The Howler to The Snigger.

They also predicted the calorie loss that could be achieved from laughing at different comedy shows.

Previous studies have already shown laughter is an aerobic activity and can burn calories. An estimated 15 minutes of laughter a day can help you burn an extra 40 calories.

Research hints that laughter is also good for the cardiovascular system and can help to tone the abdominals. One recent study showed how the internal obliques are actually activated more by laughter than by stomach crunches.

Laughter can boost levels of feel-good endorphins in the brain, decrease stress levels and dull pain. The benefits have been harnessed by Laughter Yoga, which combines laughing and breathing exercises.

Now researchers have come up with a mini-workout where you laugh while sitting watching the TV.

Dr Pilcher said: "This report raises the joyous possibility that watching comedy shows can help you to shape your six pack by targeting internal oblique muscles more effectively than sit-ups.

"I definitely felt more toned after watching hours of TV comedies." The team also sampled episodes of comedy shows on Dave in January, and predicted potential calorie loss from watching them. Taskmaster with Greg Davies and Alex Horne came out on top with the most howlers and belly-busters with a total of 32 calories of laughter during the 45-minute show.

Pilcher and Harkness propose two weight-loss regimes with Dave's Laughter Workout.

The Hyena advocates lengthy bouts of extreme laughter, and has the potential to burn an extra 130 calories per day. To lose a stone in a year, the average adult must eat around 49,000 fewer calories than normal, or burn 49,000 extra without eating any more. You'd need to laugh away an extra 134 calories a day.

To achieve this through laugher, you would need to do 22 minutes of howling (41 calories), 30 minutes of belly laughs (50 calories), an hour of giggling (33 calories), and half an hour of chuckling (10 calories).

They recommend warming up with some gentle sniggering and chuckling before embarking on strenuous belly laughs and howling.

Shape up for Spring (cleaning) recommends mixing laughter with housework to use the calorieburning effects of mirth. Housework is an aerobic activity, so it can be used to supplement the effects of laughter - and can be done while watching the TV.

Try 60 minutes of ironing (160 calories), 15 minutes of chuckling (5 calories), 30 minutes giggling (16.5 calories) and 15 minutes of belly busters (25 calories) which adds up to 206.5 calories - from sitting down.

FIVE TYPES OF LAUGHTER? The Howler flat out, uncontrollable, roll-on-the-floor laughter can burn up to 120 calories per hour? The Belly Buster Hearty belly laughs can burn up to 100 calories per hour? The Giggle Getting the giggles can burn up to 33 calories per hour? The Chuckle Irrepressible chuckling can burn up to 20 calories per hour? The Sniggering can burn up to 10 calories per hour


SERIOUS STUFF Pilcher and Harkness

NOW WHO'S LAUGHING Relaxing on the sofa could tone your abs
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 20, 2016
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