Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Is Laughter "the Best Medicine"?

Research repeatedly shows that laughter is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore (MD) found in 2005 that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Using laughter provoking movies to gauge the effect of emotions on cardiovascular health, the researchers there showed for the first time that laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood follow.  Studies had already showed that nexus between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels, a nexus confirmed by this research.  The 2005 research built on research by the same scientists about 5 years earlier that found that people with heart disease responded with less humor to everyday life situations than those with a normal cardiovascular system.  Dr. Michael Miller of the University of Maryland said "We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list."

What other benefits are achieved by simply laughing?  Laughter burns calories, lowers blood pressure,  increases the flow of oxygen to your tissues, strengthens the immune system, decreases blood sugar levels in diabetics, helps with relaxation by relieving physical tension and stress, improves sleep, triggers the release of the feel-good chemicals known as endorphins even helping to relieve the discomfort of pain, increases memory and learning, and improves alertness and creativity.

So find what makes you laugh and partake more frequently in that activity.  Read joke books, comic strips, watch comedies on TV, go see the newest comedic release in the theaters, rent funny movies, or just spend time with good friends or family members who you know will make you laugh.

Don't be so serious!  Laugh a little!

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