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The Science Behind the Couch Potato High
As reported in The New York Times last week, a group of psychologists at Oxford University have found that the muscles involved in laughing trigger an increase an endorphins. This is the reason, the scientists say, that a big belly laugh feels so good and satisfying. They asked subjects to watch funny videos and performances and then measured their resistance to pain, which is an indicator of endorphin levels (the psychologists' selections, described here by the Times, show that that the researchers have a pretty good sense of humor – don't you think?).
My first reaction was to take this news and run with it – all the way to my couch, where I figured I'd laugh myself into an endorphin-induced buzz. But then I realized that my couch potato high would quickly lead to couch potato thighs. So I devised a new plan: I'd watch TV at the gym (even injured ex-runners like me can still break a sweat while doing non-impact exercises on the Stairmaster, elliptical and rowing machines). By my calculations, amping up the intensity while watching a funny show would give me a double-dose of endorphins.
Fortunately, all of my favorite comedies are just returning from their summer hiatus, and there are two new shows I'm excited about. The parenting comedy Up All Night stars SNL alum Maya Rudolph (who also rocked Bridesmaids, this summer), Married With Children's Christina Applegate, and Arrested Development's Will Arnett. I don't have kids, but the pilot was as droll as some of my new parent-friends (and had a ridiculously awesome karaoke scene). The New Girl, which premieres this Tuesday, features Zooey Deschanel as a no-hold-barred dork in the city, kind of like Mary Tyler Moore-meets-Urkel.
I think it's going to be a feel-good fall.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.