Getting off the couch after a busy day and trekking to the gym in this sub-zero weather is normally not a laughable action. In fact, laughing might be the furthest thing from your mind as you get ready to leave your warm house and embark for the gym – especially when it’s early in the AM. While a routine switch may be beneficial, recent studies suggest that laughing might actually make this activity a lot more bearable. Research proposes that laughing before a workout can help raise pain tolerance levels and make working out feel (at least a little) less arduous this winter.
When we laugh, endorphins are released. After a good laugh, people are more likely to be in a good mood, but is it possible to be in such a good mood that you can actually feel less pain? According to an informational website, Live Science, it is! Live Science states it is true that “endorphins raise our ability to ignore pain,” but how much laughing needs to be done in order to see a difference in your workout? A 2011 study conducted by Oxford University researchers and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences tested “participants for their pain threshold, then exposed them to either a control or laugh-inducing test, and then tested pain levels again,” Live Science explains. By testing the participants’ levels of tolerance for pain, the study determined that “across all tests, the participants’ ability to tolerate pain jumped after laughing,” Live Science says. The study found that “On average, watching about 15 minutes of comedy in a group increased pain threshold by 10 percent;” however, group laughing seems to be the way to go because those who were tested by themselves “showed slightly smaller increases in their pain threshold,” Live Science points out.
Another study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore lead by researcher Dr. Michael Miller found that “the linings [of blood vessels] expanded” after a good laugh, as stated on a news website, Huffington Post. The study found that when “people watched clips of the comedy There’s Something About Mary,” their blood vessels expanded. Miller explains that “‘the magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium after laughing was consistent and similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic exercise,’” Huffington Post concludes. So, download some funny movies to your iPod this winter to boost your spirits and your tolerance for working out with a good laugh!
Verdict: True. Laughing before a workout can help raise pain tolerance. Before you head for the gym next time, watch a half hour of your favorite comedian. Get in a good laugh and then brave the elements, not only might the laughter help you get through your squats with less pain, but it also might make this winter weather a little more tolerable. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine, isn’t it? Our hilarious yoga instructor thinks so…
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