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Maybe it’s the outwardly stern image of the serious exercise-walker, striding with erect posture, a jabbing arm swing, and unsmiling face that suggests walkers can’t walk and laugh at the same time. Ha! A good laugh and a long walk are two terrific cures for what ails us; in tandem, they are doubly powerful.

Humor is a barrier-breaking, rapport-building, mood-elevating, healing and revealing exercise.

Like walking.

Hike on. With a sense of humor and laughter, of course.

Hike on. With a sense of humor, of course.

Perhaps those who take the long walk through life a bit too seriously should consider that God most certainly has a sense of humor. God made the porcupine, the rhinoceros, the banana slug. And God made you.

I’ve always liked that description of the Almighty found in Psalm 2:4: “The one whose throne is in heaven sits laughing.”

Genesis records that when Sarah gave birth to a son at age 90, she said: “God has brought me laughter and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” She and her husband Abraham, then 100, named their son Isaac, which means he laughs.

An ancient Eastern Orthodox Church tradition relates that the raised-from-the-dead Lazarus laughed for years after Jesus commanded him to “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

Ever since Norman Cousins’ landmark book, The Anatomy of an Illness, health professionals, as well as many ministers and rabbis, are rediscovering the healing power of humor. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association actually scientifically proved what Cousins and countless generations of anecdotal evidence had pointed out: laughter is useful in fighting serious illness.

How laughing improves our health

During a hearty laugh, the diaphragm, heart, lungs, thorax, abdomen, and even the liver and kidneys are given a gentle, even therapeutic, massage. Cousins calls laughter “Internal Jogging.” With all due respect to Cousins, who wrote his book in the 1970s at the height of the jogging boom, perhaps we should instead call laughter “Internal Walking.”

Walking, hiking and humor have one more use in common: each fights pain. Laughter, like walking, activates the human brain’s secretion of morphine-like molecules called endorphins, which in turn override pain, perk us up, and can give us “athlete’s high.” The retreat of pain is accompanied by an increase in mobility. So the more we walk and laugh, laugh and walk, the better we feel.

Only when faith falters, when heart and step are unsure, are we afraid to laugh in God’s presence. A person without a sense of humor is like a tender-footed walker, wincing at every pebble in the path.

Walk with laughter.

• What makes you laugh on a walk? What do you think would make you laugh?

• Want to make God laugh?
Tell him your plans.

Limerick Rut
By Madeleine Begun Kane

A woman was stuck in a rut.
She’d tripped, falling down on her butt.
She was wedged in so tight,
She might be there all night.
Seems its risky to text while you strut.

P.S. Interested in more reasons to hike for your health? Check out HIKE for Health & Fitness: Slim Down, Shape Up, and Reconnect with Nature

P.P.S. How about some funny hiker gear? Check out our t-shirts