By Debbi Taylor
It’s time for a laugh! Yes, go ahead and laugh. Not only will this put a smile on your face, but you will also be helping yourself physically and mentally.
Dr. Michael Miller is the director of the Center for Preventative Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. His research shows that having a good sense of humor could actually protect you against a heart attack. One of his studies showed people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.
Researchers don’t know why laughing protects your heart, but they do know that mental stress is associated with the impairment of the protective barrier lining of our blood vessels known as the endothelium. This is what can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries leading to a heart attack.
Make Laughing a Daily Part of Your Heart Healthy Routine!
The key to prevention is lowing your stress. According to his studies, Dr. Miller believes the ability to laugh (either naturally or as learned behavior) may have important implications on us. Remember, heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States. To reduce the risk of heart disease we are reminded regularly by our doctors to watch our weight and to make sure a good diet and exercise are part of our daily routine. Also, don’t smoke, and do eat foods that are low in saturated fat. All of these are proven ways to lower the risk of heart disease. Dr. Miller has said that maybe adding regular, hearty laughter to that list can help save lives, too!
Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, there are short-term benefits from laughing. It stimulates many organs by enhancing your intake of oxygen-rich air. This leads to stimulation in your heart, lungs and muscles. Laughing causes your brain to release endorphins. A good, relaxed feeling from laughter can activate and relieve your stress response. Another short-term benefit is that laughter can stimulate circulation and help muscles relax which also reduces stress.
So, go ahead and laugh. It could just help save your life!