So a dim-witted guy goes golfing with his buddies for the first time. He brings his golf clubs, golf shoes, golf gloves, and two pairs of pants. His friends, puzzled, ask, “Why the two pairs of pants?” The dim-witted guy simply responds, “Ya know. In case I get a hole in one.”
Did you laugh? Maybe a little chuckle? OK, probably not. There’s a good chance though (despite our lame attempt at humor) that you did laugh today, hopefully a few times. The average person, in fact, laughs 13 to 15 times day, according to laughteryoga.com.
But laughing is much more than just an emotional response to something funny. It’s physical. Laughing exercises several muscles in the body, including your abdomen, back, shoulders, and 15 facial muscles. And it may actually enhance your workout.
In a recent study at Oxford University, scientists tested the correlation between laughter and decreased pain threshold on a group of volunteer subjects. Researchers demonstrated that pain thresholds of volunteers would increase after watching comedic videos, but not after viewing boring documentaries.
Makes sense, right? Laughter plays a vital part in raising the body’s level and release of endorphins, and the resulting euphoric and natural feeling often known as “runner’s high.” When your endorphins are kicking, your mind and body are less susceptible to pain, like the strenuous pain you go through during exercise, according to the Oxford study.
While you can raise your pain threshold through different means, laughter is a good old- fashioned way to get in the right physical and mental state needed to push through the day— and especially a rigorous workout. “There’s a lot of evidence that frequent, mild bursts of activity are good for our fitness, in addition to major, intensive workouts,” says Dr. Deirdre Barrett, professor of evolutionary psychology at Harvard and author Supernormal Stimuli. “And laughter is one of the most pleasurable ways to accomplish that.” Here’s how laughter can give your workout the energy it’s missing.