You’ve likely heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine,” and, well, it’s true! While eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is great for your body and heart, laughter is just as important. In recent years, studies have shown a strong link between our emotions and cardiovascular health.
It might sound crazy, but laughter, happiness and a sense of humor can actually help you stay healthy, decreasing stress hormones, reducing artery inflammation and increasing HDL (the “good” cholesterol). According to the American Heart Association, the positive effects of laughter can last 24 hours. Here are a couple more ways laughter benefits the body.
It’s a Workout
Laughter gets your heart pumping and burns a similar number of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace does. It could even be considered a cardio workout, especially for those who are unable to do other types of physical activity.
Relaxes the Whole Body
When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, your body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote a sense of well-being and can temporarily relieve pain. A good, hearty laugh can relieve physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Protects the Heart
Research shows that laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
Reduces Blood Pressure
When endorphins are released to counteract negative effects of stress hormones, your body relaxes, lowering your blood pressure. The combination of these “feel good” hormones with the lowered blood pressure improves your mood and eases anxiety, taking tension off of your heart.
Boosts Your Immune System
Laughing increases the illness-fighting cells in your body, meaning you’re less likely to get sick or develop an infection. It decreases the stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter is a powerful tool to help combat life’s difficulties. When the stress of your everyday life seems overwhelming, remember that something as simple as laughing can relieve tension, enhance relationships and make time spent with friends and family more enjoyable. By seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can help improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness and boost your health.
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