There’s nothing like a good laugh to make the day a little lighter and more enjoyable. Whether recalling a funny story, hearing a good joke, or responding to an unexpected mishap with a chuckle instead of a scowl, we all know that laughter makes us feel better and tends to be contagious. What the medical community is telling us now is that laughter not only makes us happier, it also seems to make our hearts healthier.
When you tour, pop into a class at Village at Proprietors Green, or join the residents in our Pub, you’ll experience the joy of laughter. February is American Heart Month, and we’re adding laughter to our list of heart-healthy habits.
A number of professional organizations, including the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Cleveland Clinic have cited the physical benefits of laughter – particularly where the heart is concerned. According to the AHA, research suggests that laughter can decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation, and increase “good” cholesterol – all things that are good for the heart. They also note that the positive effects of laughter are immediate and last 24 hours.
The Cleveland Clinic cites a University of Maryland study that found laughter triggers a chemical reaction in the body that dilates (widens) blood vessels, which in turn, improves blood flow – again, a response that is good for the heart. The researchers described laughter’s effects on blood vessels as similar to those achieved through aerobic exercise and cholesterol reducing medications.
Dilated blood vessels are good for heart health, so it stands to reason that constricted blood vessels are less desirable. But our vessels do constrict when we’re feeling stressed. One solution? Laugh more.
Laughing has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Laughing on a regular basis also seems to be good for overall health because it boosts the production of antibodies needed for a strong immune system.
So think about the people and activities that make you happy, make you smile, and most importantly, make you laugh. Then make it a point to seek out those people and activities to be sure you get your daily dose of laughter. Your heart will thank you for it.