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Laughter instead of exercise for Fibromyalgia & CFS?

Friday 7 May 2010's Adrienne Dellwo reports on the cheerful results of a recent study:

Laughter Instead of Exercise for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Monday May 3, 2010

I know this sounds cliché, but laughter may actually be good medicine. According to a recent study, laughter's chemical effect on the brain and immune system may be similar to that of exercise.

This study didn't look specifically at fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and of course we have our own special issues when it comes to exertion. However, the chemical effect of exercise is what experts agree we fibromites need. Researchers are split as to whether those with chronic fatigue syndrome should be exercising at all.

This new research was actually a series of 5 separate studies that looked at the neuroendocrine and neuroimmune impact of what they called "mirthful laughter." They found that, after viewing a funny video for an hour, subjects had increased immune-system activity in the form of:

  •  Natural killer cell activity
  •  Immunoglobulins G, A & M
  •  Markers of T cell activation
  •  The cytokine interferon-gamma
  •  Total leukocytes
  •  Granulocytes

Many of the effects lasted for at least 12 hours.

Researchers also found changes in blood pressure and appetite hormones that were similar to the effects of repeated exercise.

This study reinforced my personal belief that laughter is good for us. We already knew that laughter raises the level of endorphins in the brain -- and endorphins kill pain and improve the mood. With this additional information, I'm wondering if my own intentional use of laughter has helped me make such big improvements in spite of inconsistent exercise. Could laughter "stand in" for exercise on days when we just can't do it?

Then again, I remember a severely disabled woman in my forum who says that a burst of laughter can wipe her out and cause post-exertional malaise. That makes more sense now. So perhaps those who are bedridden or nearly bedridden need to approach even laughter with caution -- say, one funny Internet video a day. It would be great if someone actually researched the effect of laughter on these conditions specifically -- I think a lot more people would accept "laughter therapy" than graded exercise theory, or the advice to just get out and be more active.

I get a lot of laughter from my husband, kids, friends and pets, but I also watch a lot of comedic shows and movies. On days when I can't get off the couch, I seek out things that will make me laugh.

Do you have humor in your life? Do you think it's benefited your health? Do you think you need to laugh more? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


  •  Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Jokes
  •  Funny, Foggy Moments
  •  Laughter as Medicine for Pain

The article originally appeared here.


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