Today is Friday and last night I decided to send out a message to all of the Masters Swimmers to see if anyone wanted to go grab breakfast after swim practice today. We got out a bit early because of a major swim meet happening at the aquatic club so everyone was happy about having a light practice.

We had about 10 people show up for breakfast. We went to the Waffle House and were crammed in the booths with cups of coffee, pancakes, eggs, toast, bacon and hash brown side dishes every where the eye could see.

One of the couples, SR and Christa got there early and were about done by the time several of us arrived. SR is a very intense sort of guy. He works out 3 times a day either with swimming, running, weights or biking. He’s in great shape and at a young age, runs a very large organization as a top manager and executive. He’s one of those types who literally likes to “suffer” so he pushes himself beyond belief.

Today, he was pushing the staff at the Waffle House. He was done so he wanted to get to work. He had been given the bill earlier and now couldn’t find it. He looked everywhere.. on the floor, in the kitchen on the other side of our booth and it was no where to be found. Soon he had several of the staff running around trying to find it while the others were trying to rewrite a ticket. The staff was all yelling across the room in Spanish trying to locate the lost ticket or to decide who served him and could they verify what should be on the ticket.

Not only were the staff running around like mice all over looking for this ticket but our two tables got into the action of trying to help him. Finally, he sat up, and felt something. YEP.. it was the TICKET! He had been sitting on it the whole time.

Our whole table erupted in laughter. SR’s face turned a deep purple, then pink which is highly exaggerated against his blondish red hair. He felt a tad foolish for getting everyone to jump through hoops and he was the one who had it all along. But the rest of us laughed so hard we felt we got an amazing workout in those few minutes alone.

One of the guys is a pharmaceutical sales rep announced some healthy statistics about laughter. He said that if you laugh just 15 minutes a day you can lower your risk of heart disease by 10%. Those are pretty amazing statistics. And not to be outdone, I had to come home and do a little research myself on those statistics.

For one thing, many researchers considered laughter as the best aerobic exercise. According to William Fry, a professor at Stanford University, California, a good belly laugh works muscles all over the body and improves blood circulation. Fry agrees that one minute of laughter equals ten minutes on the rowing machine. In other words, laughter stimulates the heart and blood circulation equivalent to any other standard aerobic exercise (qtd. in Kataria). Moreover, laughter is a powerful tool to increase lung capacity. Dr Kataria agrees that laughter can be beneficial for singers and actors. It helps them gain a better control over speech. Another benefit for them would be the improvement of self-confidence and the reduction of panic. Furthermore, experts say that laughter makes people look younger. When we are walking or running, all the muscles of the body are exercising. However, there is no regular exercise designated for facial muscles. Sometimes, when we laugh, our faces become red because of the augmentation in blood supply, which feeds the facial skin and makes it radiant. Laughing people are more likely to look attractive and happy (2-3). Finally, laughter provides an excellent source for cardiac exercise according to McGhee. He suggests the next time we are having a good bout laugh to put the hand over the heart when we stop laughing. We will notice that the heart is racing even after 20 seconds. He compares laughter to internal jogging and concludes that an individual is able to give his heart many good calisthenics every day by laughing (5). All in all, the physical benefits of laughter are powerful tools to exercise the body. (

So, according to the experts, I got at least an extra half an hour of aerobic exercise today. I think that I held a belly laugh for about 3-4 minutes so that would be approx. 30 min on the row machine.

I’d say it was the most fun work out I’ve had in ages. Now if I can just figure out how to get the belly laugh workout to equal a swim practice, I’d be in shape AND happy!