Itís Heart Healthy and Low in Calories!
by Mad Dog
subjects burned 20 percent more calories when watching clips of the Bill
Cosby Show than when watching a video of sheep grazing in an English
meadow. Of course that might have been caused less from the laughter and
more from the difference between being awake and asleep.
||If youíve ever spent
time sitting in the bathroom leafing through Readerís Digest
ó the only place other than the doctorís office itís allowed to be
ó you know that Laughter is the Best Medicine. Of course if you spend
too much time in the bathroom you might want to ask your doctor for
something stronger. What you probably donít realize is that Readerís
Digest is the Nostradamus of periodicals. Thatís right, after
years of their insistence we now have scientific evidence that laughter
may actually be the best medicine. This could open the floodgates. The
next thing you know weíll learn that humor is indeed in uniform, it
really is all in a dayís work, and condensing articles so people with
ADHD can enjoy them was a smart idea long before that Utne guy could
According to two recent studies,
laughing can not only help you lose weight, itís good for the heart.
Donít ever let it be said that I donít do my part to promote good
health. The first study was presented at the European Congress on
Obesity (motto: ďSlimmer than the U.S. Congress and more
continentalĒ) by researchers from Vanderbilt University. They reported
that their test subjects burned 20 percent more calories when watching
clips of the Bill Cosby Show than when watching a video of sheep
grazing in an English meadow. Of course that might have been caused less
from the laughter and more from the difference between being awake and
asleep. Or more correctly, asleep and deep asleep. If laughing burns
calories you can, in fact, lose weight if you laugh more. Pretty funny
stuff, isnít it?
Donít be surprised if you start seeing comic strips,
comedy films, and forwarded emails emblazoned with a ďHeart HealthyĒ
emblem. Yeah right, like any forwarded email within the past six years
has been remotely funny.
ďSo how much laughter do I need to lose weight?Ē youíre
probably asking, wondering whether it would be better to chuckle over
the comics, chortle at Dave Chapelle, or laugh uproariously at a
politician acting like heís telling the truth. Since the government
hasnít issued a Minimum Daily Requirement for laughter yet, nor have
they incorporated laughing into the new food pyramid, which is a shame
because itís so silly that just looking at it will make you laugh and
lose weight, we turn to the Vanderbilt crew. They say that 10-15 minutes
of laughter will burn 50 calories. This is about the same number
youíll find in a medium square of chocolate. In other words, if you
went to the local dodecaplex and watched a really funny movie, you could
calorically break even by eating eight squares of chocolate, which is
about 1/16th of the typical movie theater candy bar. If you watch a
drama youíre in trouble, because every bite will go to your thighs.
When word gets out about this weíll probably see everyone in the
theater take a mouthful of food after each laugh. Or every other one if
itís a crowd that wants to lose weight.
But wait, thereís more! While
youíre laughing, not only will the pounds be melting away, youíll
also be helping your heart. According to a study done at the University
of Maryland (motto: ďItís not our fault the terrapin was the only
mascot leftĒ), when subjects watched King Pin, which for
research purposes is considered a funny movie, their blood vessels
expanded and contracted more effectively in response to changes in blood
flow. One of the researchers says this means laughing may reduce the
risk of cardiovascular disease. Donít be surprised if you start seeing
comic strips, comedy films, and forwarded emails emblazoned with a
ďHeart HealthyĒ emblem. Yeah right, like any forwarded email within
the past six years has been remotely funny.
why itís a good thing an English molecular neurobiologist who does
stand-up comedy specializing in scientific jokes has come to our rescue.
And yes, I did say she specializes in scientific humor.
This means that, contrary to what your parents spent years trying
to tell you, TV sitcoms can actually be good for you. Well, as long as
you find a good one. And disconnect the automatic Cheetohs dispenser
thatís built into your new La-Z-Boy recliner. The question is, Can you
find a good one? And if you can, how do you find the funniest one?
Forget looking for the show with the
loudest laugh track, if you need to be prompted so you recognize the
jokes thereís a real problem. You can also forget using the showís
ratings, as Everyone Loves Raymond so aptly proved. What we need
is a more scientific method. Thatís why itís a good thing an English
molecular neurobiologist who does stand-up comedy specializing in
scientific jokes has come to our rescue. And yes, I did say she
specializes in scientific humor. What, you thought Gallagher had that
Dr Helen Pilcher devised a formula
she claims determines the funniest sitcom. She says a showís Comedic
Value is determined by the formula ((R x D + V) x F) + S all divided by
A, where R is the recognizability of the main character, D is their
delusions of grandeur, V is the verbal wit of the script, F is the
amount someone falls over or suffers a physical injury, S is the
difference in social status between the highest- and lowest-ranking
characters, and A is the success of any scheme in the show (A). And you
thought high school math would never come in handy.
Unfortunately she only analyzed
British sitcoms, so here in the U.S. weíre on our own. That means
youíre going to have to find the funny shows the good old fashioned
way ó by watching every one of them. On the other hand, you could
forget that and just go for a walk. Now thatís funny. But donít stop
laughing, itís good for you.
©2005 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them, laugh, and lose weight.