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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Does Laughter Trump Exercise?

Published May 3, 2010 11:25 AM by Rebecca Mayer

OK, so maybe you can't get chiseled pecs and washboard abs from a good laugh but recent findings indicate that laughter may boost one's appetite in the same way a workout does.

Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a longtime researcher on the benefits of laughter, has found that laughing not only enhances a positive mood, but lowers stress hormones, increases immune activity, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, similar to moderate exercise.

Check out this recent interview with Dr. Berk on why laughter just might be medicinal.

Dr. Berk, director of the molecular research laboratory at Loma Linda University in California, conducted a study in which a small pool of volunteers was shown a series of both humorous and upsetting videos. Immediately before and after each video, the participants gave blood samples and had their blood pressure measured.

Testing showed that the humorous videos changed blood pressure, hormone levels, and endorphins in the same way moderate exercise does.

Dr. Berk's hope is that his research may help elderly people who have lost their appetite due to depression, illness, or lack of physical activity.

What do you think of these findings? Would it be useful to incorporate laughter into your PT sessions?


Thanks for your comment, Uri. The results were all positive but varied by variable--increases in some cases (such as endorphins) and decreases in others (such as blood pressure).

Rebecca Mayer May 21, 2012 1:09 PM

Which way did the results change? Up or down? In a positive or negative way?

Uri Hirsch May 20, 2012 7:31 AM
Beverly HIlls CA

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