Laugh a Little. Laugh a Lot. Your Heart Will Thank You
If this article started with a genuinely funny joke that made you laugh, are you aware of the impact that it would have on your entire body? There are many benefits of laughter that are long lasting and affect not only your mood but your health—heart health, mental health and your immune system to be exact.
A contagious laugh: Though laughter is not a virus, many people question whether or not it is actually contagious. Whether you find yourself laughing because of a good story, joke or the sound of someone else’s laugh, it seems as though a laugh travels from one person to the next in a matter of seconds. If scientists proved the myth to be true, laughter could be the most viral of all viruses in existence.
Benefits of laughter: If you are in need of a pick-me-up, find something to laugh at. Whether you find humor in a good movie, joke or the company of a funny friend, adding laughter to your day will protect you from depression, broken heart syndrome and the common cold. Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing stress levels that often lead to diminished heart health and can, in more serious cases, lead to stroke and heart attack. Previous studies demonstrating the benefits of laughter have shown that the ability to make someone laugh can actually raise the level of common infection-fighting antibodies.
That is just that half of it. Have you ever laughed so hard that it felt as though you finished an intense abdominal workout session? That’s because laughter works muscles throughout the body. It stretches our muscles and increases our pulse, making us breathe faster. Psychologist and laughter therapist, Steve Wilson says: “The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate.”
According to a study by heart specialists at the University of Maryland, people with heart disease were less likely to laugh in a variety of situations, by 40% compared to people of the same age who did not have heart disease. This was due in part by the way blood flowed around the body.
The research stated that a mere 15 minutes of laughter a day proved to be as beneficial for your heart as a 30 minute exercise 3 times a week.
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