Exercise - One Way to Tone Your Abs
We're told good health requires exercise. Perhaps we've heard the chanting of mantras such as "No pain; no gain."
And all that talk about exercise fails to make our hearts sing. In fact, thoughts of spending large chunks of our time flailing away make us reach for chocolate to ease the stress.
Well, I have such good news for you! WooHoo! Good News and more Good News!
Long Hours of Exercise
Good News #1: Long hours of running, lifting, going from one evil exercise machine to another-all to beat our bodies into submission-are actually bad for health! Can I get an Amen? Wowzer!
Long hours of strenuous exercise demand more from our bodies than they have to give, and down the hill to disease we slide.
It starts small, like, say, getting more than our share of colds. More bouts of flu than seems reasonable. And so on.
As our downhill slide picks up speed, our health gets pretty rickety. And the typical response is to do exactly the wrong thing: Exercise even more. Yikes!
The fact is that while we absolutely need exercise, we don't need punishment.
Which leads me to Good News #2: One of the best exercises going is laughter. Not an occasional little chuckle here and there, but big, rolling, belly laughs upon frequent occasion. And if you laugh so hard that your eyes start to leak and your nose runs, all the better. You'll need to have tissues handy and all, but your body will celebrate.
Not only does laughing exercise your muscles, but it blesses your body parts like nobody's business. Laughter increases the oxygen level in your heart, lungs, brain, nervous system and all parts of the endocrine system!
By making your chest rise and fall, laughing works your stomach muscles, and your abs get toned. You may be honking and snorting, but those abs are getting a workout.
Diaphragm, leg and back muscles get a boost, too
Plus, laughing exercises up to fifteen facial muscles, and your skin gets energized as a bonus.
Since your heart is a muscle, it gets included in all the fun. Laughing strengthens the heart, widens blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and enhances blood flow.
With laughter's whole-lot-of-shaking-going-on, your lungs loosen their grip on mucus, and lung function improves.
Laughter perks up your brain, too. After a good belly laugh, learning new material gets easier, and your memory moves toward sharp-as-a-tack status.
And what belly laughs do for your endocrine system tops all the rest. Let me hit a few highlights.
Hypothalamus: This king-of-your-body's-world controls the endocrine system AND the nervous system, and laughing boosts the hypothalamus.
Pituitary: The pituitary tells the other endocrine glands when to shoot out some juice and when to stop. We need a pituitary that's in top form, and laughing helps make it so.
One pituitary job is providing the hormone, oxytocin, which, among many other functions, controls our ability to connect with others. A whacked pituitary--from, say, a concussion, autism, etc.--struggles to get the job done, but laughing fights back.
Also, when we laugh, the pituitary and the nervous system create the endorphins that ease any kind of pain and mellow out mood. Perks up dopamine, too.
Adrenals produce the stress hormone cortisol and the fight-or-flight hormone epinephrine. Shaky adrenals create too much cortisol and epinephrine, which can lead to skyrocketing blood pressure and heart failure. Not to mention stress. Lots of stress.
Laughter pulls high cortisol and epinephrine back from the brink of disaster. Not only will your heart, et al, relax, but you'll sleep better and fight insomnia less.
Pancreas: Laughing helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Thymus: Laughter energizes the thymus, the ruler of the immune system, so the thymus creates more NK (natural killer) cells, the immune system cops that stop cancer in its tracks. And your lymph may need running shoes to keep up with the new, improved pace.
Get started laughing
Don't have anything to laugh about? To get started, check out comedians on YouTube.com; I like Brian Regan, Tim Hawkins, Jeanne Robertson and others. And Fannie Flagg writes funny books.
Make laughing a priority. Put it on your schedule, and just do it.
Add some walking, a little stretching, gardening, etc, and you are good to go.
Until next time then.
P.S. I'm not a doctor or other medical poobah. Luckily for both you and me, I've been studying this stuff for many years. Knowledge is power.
Copyright 2014 by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved