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Today's technology and resources enable peopleto educate themselves on any topic imaginable, andhuman health is one of particular interest to all.From diet fads to exercise trends, sleep studies to05nutrition supplements, people strive to adopt health-ier lifestyles. And while some people may associatediets and gym memberships with sheer enjoyment,most of the population tends to think of personalhealthcare as a necessary but time-consuming,10energy-draining, less-than-fun aspect of daily life.Yet for centuries, or perhaps for as long asconscious life has existed, sneaking suspicion hassuggested that fun, or more accurately, funniness, isessential to human health. Finally, in recent years15this notion, often phrased in the adage, "Laughter isthe best medicine," has materialized into scientificevidence.When a person laughs, a chemical reaction in thebrain produces hormones called endorphins. Other20known endorphin-producing activities includeexercise, physical pain, and certain food choices,but laughter's appearance on this list has drawnincreasing empirical interest. Endorphins functionas natural opiates for the human body, causing what25are more commonly referred to as "good feelings."A boost of endorphins can thwart lethargy and pro-mote the mental energy and positivity necessary toaccomplish challenging tasks. Furthermore, recentdata reveal that the laughter-induced endorphins are30therapeutic and stress reducing.This stress reduction alone indicates signifi-cant implications regarding the role of laughter inpersonal health. However, humor seems to addressmany other medical conditions as well. One study35from Loma Linda University in California foundthat the act of laughing induced immediate andsignificant effects on senior adults' memory capaci-ties. This result was in addition to declines in thepatients' cortisol, or stress hormone, measurements.40Another university study found that a mere quarterhour of laughter burns up to 40 calories. Pain toler-ance, one group of Oxford researchers noticed, isalso strengthened by laughter—probably due to therelease of those same endorphins already described.45And a group of Maryland scientists discovered thatthose who laugh more frequently seem to havestronger protection against heart disease, the illnessthat takes more lives annually than any other inAmerica. Studies have shown that stress releases50hormones that cause blood vessels to constrict,but laughter, on the other hand, releases chemicalsthat cause blood vessels to dilate, or expand. Thisdilation can have the same positive effects on bloodflow as aerobic exercise or drugs that help lower55cholesterol.Already from these reputable studies, empiricaldata indicates that laughter's health benefits includeheart disease prevention, good physical exertion,memory retention, anxiety remedy, and pain60resilience—not to mention laughter's more self-evident effects on social and psychological wellness.Many believe that these findings are only the begin-ning; these studies pave the way for more researchwith even stronger evidence regarding the powerful65healing and preventative properties of laughter. Asis true for most fields of science, far more can belearned.As for how laughter is achieved, these studiesused various methods to provoke or measure laugh-70ter or humor. Some used comedy films or televisionclips; others chose humor-gauging questionnairesand social—or group—laughter scenarios. Suchvariance suggests that the means by which peopleincorporate laughter into their daily routine matters75less than the fact that they do incorporate it.However, it should be said that humor shared in anuplifting community probably offers greater benefitsthan that found on a screen.It is believed that young people begin to laugh80less and less as they transition to adulthood.Time-pressed millennials might, in the interest ofwellness, choose isolated exercise instead of social-or fun-oriented leisure activities. However, thisgrowing pool of evidence exposes the reality that85amusement, too, can powerfully nourish the healthof both mind and body. Humor is no less relevant towell-being than a kale smoothie or track workout.But, then, some combination of the three might bemost enjoyable (and, of course, beneficial) of all.
Adapted from I.M. Dunbar, et al., "Social Laughter Is Correlated with an Elevated Pain Threshold." © 2011 by The Royal Society of Biological Sciences.
1. The author would probably characterize the study findings mentioned in the passage as
2. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
3. Based on the passage, which statement best explains the relationship between endorphin production and mental outlook?
4. As used in line 56, "reputable" most nearly means
5. Which of the following statements can you best conclude from the passage?
6. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
7. Which reason best explains why the author chose to discuss the function of endorphins in lines 23-25 ("Endorphins … good feelings")?
8. As used in line 15, "adage" most nearly means
9. Which value shown on the graph most closely relates to the idea in lines 76-77 that "humor shared in an uplifting community" increases resilience to pain?
10. The information in the passage strongly suggests that
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