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They say that laughter is the best medicine — but now they're also saying it’s pretty good exercise, too!

The New York Times reports on a recent study that revealed how laughter isolates specific muscles and utilizes deep breathing just like a really good workout. The more you belly laugh, the more you activate your abdominal muscles; likewise, the deeper you breathe, the more you stimulate circulation and burn calories. So there’s no shame in watching Bridesmaids in your sweatpants, you guys — it’s like exercising.

Even better, laughing makes our bodies produce endorphins — our body’s natural “feel-good” pain tolerators. The more we laugh, the more endorphins we produce, and the more pain we can withstand. Physical benefits compounded when participants were studied laughing in groups. Turns out, the more belly laughter among friends, the more benefit to our bodies — and souls, of course!

The bad news? You can’t fake it. The exercise-like effects of laughter are only demonstrated in sincere bouts of laughing. Polite laughers, looks like you’ll have to hit the gym.

Source: The New York Times

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