Brought to you by the Sideroad - Your path to a connected world.
Click here for more!
Go To Health! (Because Life's Too Short. . .)

the Author:

Shara Rendell-Smock, author

Shara Rendell-Smock has written more than twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper articles, including a monthly health column for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

She's the author of two books of non-fiction: Getting Hooked: Fiction's Opening Sentences 1950's- 1990's
Living With Big Cats: The Story of Jungle Larry, Safari Jane, and David Tetzlaff
For ordering information, click here.

To read more about these books, participate in an ongoing joke contest, surf on over to .
The author currently lives on Florida's Space Coast.

Shara has recently signed with a New York Literary agency.

Humour and Health

A Matter of Perspective
- Part 3 of 5

"Humor May be Dangerous to Your Illness," is the way Steve Sultanoff, Mirthologist and Clinical Psychologist puts it. "Therapeutic humor is more than a discrete moment in time. It is not a joke, anecdote, or funny situation. Instead, it is a perspective or way of being in the world--a way of enjoying the ups and downs of life."

Humor changes our feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and biochemistry. It's all in our perspective. We can develop and nurture humor to heal.

So what is humor, really?

"Humor consists of laughter (the physiological component), wit (the cognitive component), and mirth (the emotional component)," Sultanoff states. "Research is actually studying laughter, not humor. The components other than laughter have not been studied (to my knowledge) for their health benefits.

"We are all familiar with the feeling of 'lightness' that follows deep belly laughter. Norman Cousins reported that 10-20 minutes of deep belly laughter gave him hours free from the pain of his debilitating disease. Laughter has been described as a 'jogging of the internal organs.'"

Research proves that laughter holds many physiological benefits. The jury is out as far as laughter triggering the release of endorphins. Sultanoff explains, "While it is a commonly held belief that endorphins are released during laughter, I am unaware of any research that supports this belief. It may be true. People consistently report that they feel better after laughter. However we must wait for the research to answer the question once and for all."

The evidence to date shows many physiological benefits of laughter:

  • Increases muscular and respiratory activity
  • Stimulates the cardiovascular system, the sympathetic nervous system, and the production of catecholamines
  • Increases antibodies-the body's first line of defense against respiratory illness
  • Decreases levels of stress hormones
  • Decreases heart rate (in "heavy laughers")
  • Increases pain tolerance
  • Stimulates the muscular and skeletal systems

For more information on Humour and Health, visit Steve Sultanoff's site, Humor Matters. (And if you want some laughs right now, you can go to the Joke Contest page at my web site at But don't forget to come back here to read other Sideroad writers' columns!

Next Week:

Humour as a Coping Mechanism

Does laughing make you feel better when you're sick? Got any experiences to share? Or jokes for next week? If so, e-mail me at

Back to the top / The New Sideroad/ Go to the latest column

Issue # 11
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1998


Humour and Health

Part 1 of 5 - "Think You're Funny?" (A look at laughter.)

Part 2 of 5 - What the Experts Say. . .

Overcoming Sleep Disorders

Part 1 of 4 - how your mattress can make all the difference.

Part 2 of 4 - strategies to help you sleep.

Part 3 of 4 - more strategies to help you sleep.

Part 4 of 4 - what is a sleep log and how does it work?


Stats indicate that for those over the age of 50, one of every two women and one in eight men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Our sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for this disease. Yet osteoporosis is not inevitable. Here's some information on this disease and how we can prevent it.

Part 1 of 4 - - details the likelihood of developing this disease, and its dangers and consequences.

Part 2 of 4 - - presents the risk factors of osteoporosis and some of our misconceptions about the disease.

Part 3 of 4 - - insights into diagnosis, and basic management techniques.

Part 4 of 4 - - new medical treatments to stop osteoporosis, and safety in the home of osteoporosis sufferers.

Next Week:

Humour as a Coping Mechanism

Part of the original Sideroad. Text 1998, Shara Rendell-Smock. Posted Jan. 13, 1998. The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at

Shara's books can be ordered from her web site at