The Physiology of FUN, and Its Impact on Your Health

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A family is running on the beach, striving for optimal health.

Child and sunflowerHave you bought into the myth that that achieving high level health and a strong, lean and fit body is hard work?  If so, listen up.

Many of my patients and students over the years have expressed that very concern, and were surprised to find that among my top 4 health generating activities is having fun.  I love sharing ways to incorporate habits that create vibrant health and boundless energy – without all the hard work.

While a comprehensive health restoration, energy boosting program contains many components, here are my top 4:

  1. Fun
  2. Fitness
  3. Food
  4. Flexibility

So why is fun so important to achieving your goal of optimum health and wellness?

When you’re having fun, your body produces a chemical soup that nourishes and protects your cells, enhances the function of your immune system, and brings your hormones into harmony.

The physiology of funView of happy young family having fun on the beach

Have you heard of the book, Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins?

In it, Cousins checks himself out of the hospital and into a comfy (and a lot less expensive) hotel room, where he watches funny movies and takes high doses of vitamin C to get well.

In a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2009, people were assessed on how frequently they engaged in 10 different types of leisure activities.  Those who had the most fun also had lower blood pressure, a slimmer waist, a smaller body mass index, and lower levels of cortisol and overall better physical functioning.

The physiologic effects of fun probably have a lot to do with its ability to reduce stress and this reduce disease risk and slow down the aging process. This is just one more solid argument for shortening that to-do list and finding a few fun leisure activities to do each day instead.

Reference:  Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Pressman, S. D. et al., Psychosomatic Medicine 2009 Jul 10.

Fun that results in laughter is especially powerful because laughter is such a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Laughter works faster than anything else to bring your mind and body back into balance. Humor also connects you to others, enhances your relationships and supports both physical and emotional health by keeping grounded, focused, and alert.

Laughter is good for your health. 

  • A good laugh relaxes your muscles for up to 45 minutes and decreases stress hormones.
  • Laughter improves your immune system by increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins which can improve your energy and temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter improves the function of your blood vessels and increases blood flow, thus improving blood flow increasing cellular energy and reducing your risk of heart attack.

If you are ready to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with lots of energy and zest for living, here are a few tips:

1-     Get in touch with those things you really enjoy doing.  Make a list of 10-20 things you find fun.  The sky’s the limit here.  Include things as simple as crossword puzzles and bubble baths to as elaborate as a trek in the Himalayas, skiing in the alps or diving the great barrier reef.  If you come up with more than 20 that’s even better.   The very act of connecting to what you most love to do will bring your chemistry into balance.  Identify at least a few, preferably 5-7,  that you can do on a daily basis even when crunched for time.  Start by scheduling 5 minutes s a day to do one of your fun activities.  Once you get started it will become addictive and you might find yourself having fun for 30 minutes or more a day.  Woo hoo!

2-     Decide to make many of your day to day routine activities fun.  Add your favorite music to your fitness routine, walk in beautiful places, and have a blast creating new and delicious healthy food treats.

3-     Share the fun.  Invite someone to participate in your fun activities, watch a funny movie together .

4-     Laugh often and deeply.  Watch funny video clips, read joke books or share funny stories with loved ones.  Laughter is as contagious as it is healing.

5-     Join me March 22 – 24 in lovely Austin, Texas for my first ever Spring Into Vitality event, where I will guide you to incorporate all 4 of my top elements:  fun, food, fitness and flexibility plus a whole lot more.

Follow the blog to be notified about our next article in the series, where we’ll look at food as a fatigue fighter and vibrant health builder, and learn how to have fun with food.

By the way I personally had a fun-filled weekend, and I would love to share with you about it with my pictorial travel log:

Dinner with my son, his friends and their parents

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A long run on the beach, across the street from hotel

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Lunch at the raw vegan restaurant across the street

photo4

Hanging out on campus with my son

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Foggy morning run on beach

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Farmers market

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Sunset on campus

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Sail boat race on the beach

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Watching the fisherman set up on beach , last day

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In between all the fun and food with Eric, we also got to attend a magic show, jazz performance and improv show.  We laughed and had a whole lot of fun.  Our bodies are thanking us now. 🙂

So remember, have fun!

One thing you can do right now to increase your fun is to JOIN ME in Austin, Texas for Spring Into Vitality!

 

Spring Into Vitality

 

 

With much love and appreciation,

ritamarie-signature

P.S. What would you like to do for fun? Comment below.

 

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3 Comments

  1. ~Whitewolf

    I’ve been putting off moving from a place that isn’t working out for me ( Portland, Beaverton actually ) to Florida.

    In meditation, I’ve apparently been putting it on the back burner, not having a clue of how to make it happen. Too hard.. too costly etc

    I opened your letter this morning and realized it was a sign.
    I’m so glad your son is there and doing well, I’m glad you went, and thank you for posting pictures!

    I was so happy there during an extended visit, I really think my health would improve by being there. Please keep us updated on your son’s journey, if even for a little push in the right direction for some of us.
    LOL

    Much love to you and your family, thank you for all your help

    ~Whitewolf

    >^:^<

    Reply
  2. Stacie

    Wonderful post! This is a nice wake up call to have more FUN. Fun means different things to different people, but for me…on this beautiful sunny day, fun means getting outdoors more than I have been. I may start taking walks around my apartment complex, where I always meet friendly people, get to pet doggies (another fun thing), and enjoy the sunshine…while getting healthy. Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply
  3. mary

    brilliant! just what the doctor ordered xx literally!

    Reply

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  1. The Sweetest of Them All: (Part 2) | - […] first in the series, The Physiology of Fun, covered how important it is to have laughter and fun in…

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