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Benefits of Laughter: A Link to Heart Attack Prevention.
There it is, Jerry Seinfeld “live-on-stage” and your face looks like you just chopped some fresh onions- Streaming with irrepressible tears. Yet this weeping originates from joy and laughter. Go ahead, and treat yourself to a giggle. It can actually save your life! According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM.edu), a study revealed that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh than others within the same age group. Many experts agree in the numerous health benefits of laughter, but can this joyful expression truly prevent a heart attack?
UMM.edu documents a study that consisted of questions comparing humor responses from 300 individuals. The results showed people who previously experienced a heart attack generally laughed less, and displayed more anger and hostility.
Michael Miller, M.D. director of the Center of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center mentions the following in UMM.edu:
The ability to laugh -- either naturally or as learned behavior -- may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer. 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 happens to the body when we laugh?
1. Laughter gets your heart pumping, much like jogging or sprint walking. Many take this physiological reaction of joy as a great opportunity to tone-up abdominal muscles and lose some extra calories. Although the physical results are not as evident as with other intense aerobic activities; laughing improves oxygenation to the heart, lungs, brain, and other organs within the body.
2. Laughter promotes immunity and disease prevention. Stress, anxiety, anger, and other like behaviors can lead to negative health effects. Shifting to a state of happiness and amusement creates a positive setting for health and wellbeing.
As stated in the Mayo Clinic:
Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
3. Laughter lightens the mood by altering the focus from negative thinking to positive and joyful thoughts. This constructive state of being has uplifting effects on your mood, and can even help ease anxiety. A hearty laugh releases muscle tension and also aids in pain control. During laughter abdominal muscles contract, and the muscles in the neck and upper back relax. A giggle or two can actually assist with pain control by decreasing muscle tension and promoting relaxation. The Mayo Clinic comments further on the benefits of laughter and pain control mentioning; “Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.”
The next time you notice a furry friend performing cartwheels in exchange for a tasty treat, pause and soak in the moment. Laughter is more than a reaction to a humorous encounter; it offers benefits to the mind, heart, and overall state of wellbeing.
“A laugh is a smile that bursts.” -Mary H. Waltdrip
* All information shared in this article should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to incorporating any suggestions. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide advice or direct client decisions.
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