The saying, “laughter is the best medicine,” has been around forever but recent studies have found that laughter actually does promote significant health benefits. In a study led by Dr. Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventative Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, it was found that laughter and humor may help protect against heart attacks by helping in preventing heart disease. This study found a strong correlation between mental stress and the effects it has on the protective barrier lining of our blood vessels. According to the study, ” This (mental stress) can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack.” Read the full article here. Good news is increased laughter and humor has shown to lower blood pressure, increase vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood-which means it is good for your heart and brain. Laughter is also known to boost our immune system and increases the response of tumor and disease fighting antibodies and cells within our body as well as reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
In relation to the brain, regular laughter has shown to increase memory and learning, improve alertness and creativity and strengthen and improve moods. In fact, the act of laughing helps the pituitary gland release endorphins- the body’s natural feel good chemicals. This also increases pain tolerance, concludes a study produced by the University of Oxford. The study found that the physical act of laughing causes our muscles to contract thereby releasing endorphins which may reduce aches and pains. Those contractions also work to strengthen the diaphragm, abdominal, facial, respiratory and back muscles (it’s like a mini workout and great add on to your traditional routine!) So next time you’re not feeling well try watching a funny movie or listen to comedians and get some laughter going.
Get your giggles on by:
- Surrounding yourself with funny, uplifting people & avoid those who bring you down
- Reading, listening or watching something funny. I highly recommend watching the game show, Wipeout, for extreme laughter!
- Be grateful & count your blessings- I truly believe a grateful heart is a happy heart!
- Playing with your pets or kids
- Playing like a kid! Get out there & have some fun & be silly!
- Listening to some laughter- it is contagious after all
- Smiling (even when you don’t feel like it)
- Being joyful & optimistic
- Don’t take everything so personally or seriously- try to find the humor in what could be negative situations
So lighten up, laugh a lot, and live a better quality of life!