Welcome to Did You Know, a bite-sized column where we aim to make wellness more digestible. On the agenda for today: the heart-health benefits of laughing. Turns out that whole “laughter is the best medicine” thing is—ahem—no joke. Learn more about how laughing can improve your heart health, below.
WHAT: A laugh a day could keep the doctor away. Daily laughter has been linked to lower prevalence of cardiovascular diseases.
WHY: Stress causes our body to release hormones that constrict our blood vessels and elevate blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to stroke and heart attack. Laughing helps reduce stress. In addition, laughing helps improve circulation, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and increase “good” cholesterol levels.
- Gives us endorphins (cue obligatory Legally Blonde joke). These help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and generally reduce stress.
- Releases a gas called nitric oxide, which is thought to help relax blood vessels, increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation. Nitric oxide may also help prevent cholesterol buildup.
- Basically counts as cardio, because it increases our heart rate and burns around the same amount of calories as walking at a slow to moderate pace. This also helps improve vascular function and circulation, both of which are key to a healthy heart.
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