How can you make yourself feel good and help your heart at the same time? Laugh!
And that’s no April Fool’s joke. Scientific research has demonstrated the positive effects of laughter on your heart. These effects include reduced blood pressure, increased blood flow, higher levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, reduced inflammation and decreased stress and anxiety.
How can laughter affect the heart—and your health—in these ways?
Physiologically, laughter reduces the secretion of stress hormones, which dilate blood vessels and allow more blood to flow to all parts of your body, providing your body with more oxygen and nutrients. This makes it easier for your heart to work and pump enough oxygen and nutrients to your cells.
Laughter increases the amount of HDL cholesterol in your blood. HDL cholesterol is often called “good” cholesterol because it prevents or reverses the processes involved in plaque formation. In addition, laughter reduces inflammation in your blood vessels. When inflammation is decreased, plaque is less likely to be deposited in your blood vessels. These changes are similar to the benefits obtained from exercising or using drugs to lower cholesterol levels. The difference is laughter is spontaneous and the effects of laughter can last 24 hours.
Studies have shown that positivity and optimism have similar impacts on heart health, and frequent laughter may be a sign of this positive outlook. It is also true that laughing forces you to feel better—even momentarily—which can be extremely important, especially for people who may be lonely or isolated.
Here are some tips to help you laugh more:
- Watch a comedy show on the stage or TV
- Tell jokes to others
- Read a joke book
- Look on the lighter side of things
- Do things that bring you joy and laughter like art
On this April Fool’s Day, take a break from your serious side and laugh a little. It’s good for your soul, and it’s good for your heart too!
- Learn more about Humor Helps Your Heart? How?
- Learn Three Ways that Laughter can Give You a Healthier Heart
- Learn more about 5 Tips to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
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