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Losing Weight with Laughter

Many of us tend to gain a few extra pounds from time to time. Then we make a resolution to diet but that often doesn't work. But do not despair, laughter is here. Exercising your sense of humor can actually help you shed those extra pounds.

Several years ago, scientists found that a hearty laugh is a calorie burner. They discovered that 10 to 15 minutes of belly laughter can burn off the number of calories found in a medium square of chocolate. In other words, a good belly laugh can actually reduce the size of your belly.

The latest research from the University of Exeter in the U.K., has shown that 10 minutes of riding on an exercise bike burned 49 calories for the rider. On the other hand, when the same rider had 100 laughs, they burned 151 calories. That's over 100 more calories burned by laughing than by cycling.

Other researchers, this time at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, played comedy clips for 45 couples and then measured how many calories they burned when they laughed.

The volunteers were told that they were being tested for emotional reactions to various video clips. "We didn't tell them that the goal of the study was to measure laughter, because then they might have forced it and we wanted it to be genuine laughter," said the lead researcher, Maciej Buchowski, director of bionutrition at Vanderbilt.

The volunteers relaxed in their reclining chairs and watched what was on the screen. "First it was half an hour of something boring - an English landscape," Buchowski said. "During that time we measured the baseline, the resting metabolic rate." Then they viewed five different comedy clips for 10 minutes each, interspersed with five minute intervals of sheep wandering around fields in England.

The results of the research showed that the participants "burned 20 percent more calories when laughing, compared to not laughing." Depending on body size and how hard a person laughs, researches calculated that if somebody laughed from 10 or 15 minutes a day they could burn up to 50 calories. In other words, if you laughed for 10-15 minutes a day, you'd burn enough calories to lose about 4.4 pounds in a year.

Laughter may not exactly be an effective way to shed extra pounds but it's a sure fun way to try.

And to start you laughing, here is short excerpt from Nancy Cohen's list of "What I Learned About Cooking Last Night":

* You shouldn't dry lettuce leaves with a blow-dryer.
* If you need to thaw ice cream, nine minutes in the microwave is too long.
* Do not put keys in key lime pie.