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Health & Balance

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Laughter Affects Appetite Much Like a Workout Does

Study Finds Repetitive Laughter Has an Impact on Appetite Hormones

Laughter, Workout Study Results

After watching the funny videos, participants had a decrease in leptin of about 15%, Berk found. After watching the war movie, there were no significant changes in the hormone.

They had an increase in ghrelin after viewing the humorous video of about 9%, he found, but no change after the war movie.

The results don't mean that laughter increased appetite, he says, but rather that the body's response to repetitive laughter is similar to that of repetitive workouts.

Laughter, Workout Study: Implications

Berk hopes the research may help elderly people who have lost their appetite, whether due to depression, illness, or lack of physical activity.

''The second application is for wellness," he says. Laugh while you work out, he suggests, and you may just be tuning up your appetite hormones, keeping them in balance, as well as improving your cardiovascular fitness.

The research, he says, may help those who have difficulty getting in physical activity, such as those who are physically handicapped or elderly.

Second Opinion

Cautioning that the study is small and the results preliminary, Mary Bennett, PhD, director of the Western Kentucky University School of Nursing in Bowling Green, says the results are interesting.

She has researched and published on the value of humor and laughter and reviewed the new study findings for WebMD.

"It looks like it is possible that a brief period of laughter affects the hormones that control appetite in such a way that it might improve appetite," she tells WebMD.

That, in turn, might be helpful, she says, for the elderly who have so little appetite they are losing weight.

But she offers a caveat, too: "We don’t know the dose of laughter or how often the dose needs to be applied to make a real difference in people's health," she says.

Even so, she adds, she's not suggesting avoiding laughter at all; she endorses enjoying a good laugh whenever possible.

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