If you visit my Web site often, you know I believe positive emotions protect you from the damage stress and disease can do to your body. I bet you may not know laughter can help you lose weight too, and there’s good scientific evidence to prove it.

Vanderbilt University researchers sequestered 45 pairs of friends in a room, played comedy clips and measured the amount of calories patients burned as they laughed. The key factor about this study: Patients were told only that their emotional reactions to a range of video clips were being measured, not their laughter. Had they known the purpose of the study, researchers believed patients might have forced laughs that were triggered by a different sector of the brain.

The testing area — decorated like a cheap motel room — was designed so scientists could measure how much oxygen patients inhaled and the carbon monoxide they expelled. Their natural breathing cycles — the true way to measure how much energy a body burns — were calculated before and during cycles of laughter to determine if patients actually burned more energy and how big the difference was.

Based on their reactions to comedy clips — shown between five-minute segments of sheep wandering the British countryside — researchers found patients burned 20 percent more calories when laughing. They later calculated 10-15 minutes a day of laughter could add up to a patient burning up to 50 calories a day, based on their size and the intensity of laughter.

Over a year’s time, that could amount to some 4 pounds, and that’s no joke…

And, you certainly know the damage unresolved negative emotions can do to your health too.

Yahoo News June 4, 2005