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Watching Cat Videos Could Expand Your Life Expectancy

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Watching Cat Videos Could Expand Your Life Expectancy

Mar 31, 2016
We know by now there is, unfortunately, no Fountain of Youth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t expand your life expectancy. A new medical study is suggesting that watching cat videos can help you live a healthier, longer life. Strong immune system, better cardio health and a defense against common allergies are just some of the health benefits. Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones walks you through the study and talks about why watching cat videos is good for your health.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: A new study is suggesting that watching funny cat videos can help expand your life expectancy. But there are a lot of funny videos, lots of cats, and lots of funny videos of cats. Which ones are the most beneficial to watch if you want to live a long and healthy life? This is coming up next on The Scope.

Announcer: Covering all aspects of women's health. This is "The Seven Domains of Women's Health" with Dr. Kirtly Jones on The Scope.

Interviewer: It's been said that laughing has great effects in life. Not only does it reduce blood pressure but it helps with stress and anxiety. Unless you're allergic to happiness, laughing just makes you happier. It's just that simple. But a new study out today is suggesting that laughter from watching a funny cat video not only brightens your day but it can actually help you live a healthier, longer life. Dr. Kirtly Jones is a woman's health expert and she knows all too well that emotional health is a key component of overall good health. But Dr. Jones, the study is telling me that even if I'm not a cat person, watching a funny video of a cat can help with my health. What's going on here? Let's talk about this.

Dr. Jones: Well, actually, there's been a great deal of research about funny cat videos and overall health. And it's important to know that various studies have shown that not only does it help your immune health, and we can talk about that, your cardiovascular health, and most importantly your emotional health. There are some caveats, though, some important things to know.

First of all, some of the early studies had men and women in the same group and those studies weren't as strong. You really have to separate men out because men watching videos, they really only laugh at videos of other men expressing gas or doing something incredibly stupid. So we really need to focus just on women.

Interviewer: Just on us?

Dr. Jones: Just the women. Now, secondly, you have to really identify women who identify with cats because so they did study comparing cat videos with dog videos and lo and behold, there was a subset of people who responded well to dog videos and not cat videos. So they separate them out by a questionnaire. The questionnaire had two questions: one, I think cats are incredibly adorable; and two, I think cats are useless bird killers. And if they separated out the women who responded that they thought that cats were useless bird killers, then the adorable cat lovers were perfect for studying. So indeed, in those women who watched cat videos then there were benefits in a wonderful number of domains. Let's talk about those a little bit.

Interviewer: Okay, yes. Let's break this down to health benefits. So if I want good cardio health but I hate cardio activities like running, cycling, the elliptical stairs, I hate it all, what's my alternative?

Dr. Jones: There's some very good evidence that watching cat videos and laughing is exercise because laughing is exercise. So looking at longer videos, 90-minute videos, you can increase your heart rate and you can increase your respiration and that's really wonderful and you return to baseline very quickly. So 90 minutes might give you an extra 10 calories. Now, a two-minute video doesn't have much cardiovascular benefit, but most people watch their cat video at least 10 times.

So the 10 times , times 2 calories, and then if you get up and have to go pee, which you will, if you keep laughing if you're a woman, so you're going to have to go pee a little bit and come back, you can get to 10 calories by watching it 10 times.

Interviewer: Okay. So now my cardio is good, but if my immune system is kind of just out of whack and I get sick every week, besides drowning my body in orange juice and eating an apple a day, what else can I do to maybe only get sick every other week?

Dr. Jones: There's some very, very good evidence on cat videos and immune function. So they have to laugh and that's important because some cat videos don't make people laugh. If you laugh, then that increases your salivary IgA. Also, laughing makes your killer T-cells, cells that help fight viruses and tumors, be more active. And that's been shown in men who watch videos . . . I can't really discuss about the kind of videos they're watching and laughing at, but for the women and cat videos, their T-cell function worked better. So also, watching cat videos calms people, particularly kitty videos. So if you're watching kiddy, K-I-D-DY and kitty, K-I-T-T-Y, putting them together makes people's cortisols drop and they feel much calmer.

Interviewer: And that in return helps my immune system.

Dr. Jones: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Okay. So because we're talking about women, beauty comes to mind, is there a cat video I can watch to maybe enhance my natural beauty? I mean, if I can deal without my current beauty products, I want to do it without them.

Dr. Jones: Oh great, right. Well, first of all, it's important to understand the smile. Now, you may not have your skin tone be that much more beautiful, but if you have a natural smile and practice your natural smile, you will be much more attractive to others. So practicing that smile, but it has to be a real smile so what they call the Duchenne smile, which involves your facial muscles and your eye muscles, not what they used to call the Pan Am smile or the . . .

Interviewer: Like the Hunger Games smile.

Dr. Jones: The Hunger Games, right. Right. Or the Botox smile. So in fact, it's not so much that your beauty itself and your skin tone, but when you smile, you look more beautiful and practicing your smiles. You practice your smiles in front of the mirror when you're looking at yourself, but the real smile, the Duchenne, named after a very famous neurologist, that reaches your eyes which you only get watching cat videos. So practice those cat videos and your smile will be much more natural.

Interviewer: Remembering all this is going to just stress me out. I'm just going to get stress anxiety because I have to remember every single cat videos that you're telling me about.

Dr. Jones: Think about that "aw". What makes you go "aw"? and there's a cat video for stress relieve as well and this is any video with a cat and a toddler. So if you just Google or go to YouTube and put in "cats and toddlers," you will have definitely an option for stressing out.

Interviewer: It's cuteness overload.

Dr. Jones: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Interviewer: Okay. All right, all right. I don't suppose there's anything that's going to give me abs, is there? Or that just seems way too much now?

Dr. Jones: No, no. Nothing but ab workouts are going to make your abs. But if you want to get rid of that bloating feeling, that unwanted water in your system, you can try watching videso of cat ambushes.

Interviewer: Cat ambushes.

Dr. Jones: Now you may be passing gas when that happens. So if you're startled, but if you have a certain way that you respond to cats ambushing other cats or human beings or birds, anything really of an ambush, you may actually . . . it may help with the bloating.

Interviewer: Earlier, you mentioned that watching kitty videos helps regulate my immune system. What about allergies? Is there anything I can watch to calm them down, keep them at bay?

Dr. Jones: Sometimes, your allergies are an overwork of your immune system. So allergies are complicated and it gets their own category of cat video. I always prescribe the cat cucumber video for people who say that they have allergies, their eyes get red and puffy, they feel kind of puffy in the springtime, that's the perfect video for allergy symptoms.

Interviewer: What if I'm allergic to cats themselves?

Dr. Jones: Well, that's no problem because cat videos had been proven to be hypoallergenic, safe for all ages and persons.

Interviewer: Okay. What about pain? If I'm dying of pain, can a cat video help me?

Dr. Jones: No, Chloe. If you're in pain, you need to see a doctor.

Interviewer: Okay. That's fine. I'm just checking because there seems to be a cat video for everything. Okay, no cat videos for pain relief.

Dr. Jones: Well, that's not exactly true in people with chronic pain. So acute pain, no. So if you ruptured your appendix, I strongly recommend . . .

Interviewer: I got to go see a doctor.

Dr. Jones: That you see the doctor. However, chronic pain, back pain, laughing at videos and the "aw" of cats and babies decreases the sensation of chronic pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, that kind of thing. It just calms . . .

Interviewer: It just calms me down.

Dr. Jones: It calms you down, decreases, and especially as you watch it over and over, you'll feel more calm. As you search the Internet more broadly for even more cat videos, you'll find you won't be thinking about your pain at all.

Interviewer: Okay. Now, this just sounds ridiculous now at this point. Are we . . . Is this study even real or what's going on? Because I feel like you're just playing with me here. Can cat videos actually help me live a longer life?

Dr. Jones: Sorry. Sorry, Chloe.

Interviewer: What's going on? You're laughing? You're laughing and I know why. I know why you're laughing. It's because we just played a prank on everybody. April Fools. Watching cat videos does not help you live a long and healthy life. But, Dr. Jones, tell everybody what does.

Dr. Jones: Laughing is good for you. Those things I said about laughing have been studied in looking at funny videos versus videos, watching, telling you how to repair your vacuum cleaner so people who watch funny videos versus that instructional videos actually do have an improvement in their immune function, a decrease in chronic pain and improvement in their cardiovascular response. And smiling the real smile, not the Botox smile, actually improves not only your sense of wellbeing but those around you. So on this April Fool's Day, I hope everybody gets a smile.

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