It’s been known for many decades that Laughter is the Best Medicine
Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
Ongoing research confirms these findings and shows that laughter improves vascular health.
Researchers discovered that watching a movie that produces laughter improves vascular function, the opposite of what is observed after watching a movie that causes mental stress.
In the current study, volunteers watched segments of a funny movie, such as “There’s Something About Mary” on one day and on another day watched the violent opening segment of the stressful movie “Saving Private Ryan.”
There was a 30-50 percent difference in blood vessel diameter between the laughter (blood vessel expansion) and mental stress (blood vessel constriction) phases. The magnitude of change seen in the endothelium (or inner cell wall of a blood vessel), after laughing was consistent and similar to the benefit that may be seen with aerobic exercise or statin use.
The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, so it is very possible that laughing on a regular basis may be useful to incorporate as part of an overall healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease.
Dr. Michael Miller, Professor of Medicine was the lead investigator in this research conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. His advice was, “In other words, eat your veggies, exercise and get a good belly laugh every day.”
This research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Paris, August 28, 2011.