By Kati Blocker
Laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to your heart health. A small change to how you go about your daily life can make big difference. You can add laughter into almost anything and it will help your heart health.
“People find enjoyment from different activities and interactions,” said UCHealth cardiologist Dr. Justin Strote. “Working on reducing stress in daily life is very important and adding laughter is a great way to do so.”
Here are some tips and information on why it’s great to laugh your way to a healthier heart.
Find the funny, feel better.
Have you ever felt worse after having one of those laughing fits that you just can’t stop? The kind where your stomach hurts afterward? No?
Well, there’s an actual physical reason and amazing benefit to your heart health when you laugh.
– Your body’s natural feel-good chemicals, endorphins, are released, which can give you a sense of overall well-being and relieve pain temporarily.
– Your body actually decreases stress hormones and increases overall immunity to fight off disease.
– More blood starts pumping through your body, which is always a good thing.
– The physical effects of laughing can last up to 24 hours.
– Laughter yoga – it’s a real thing.
Laughter isn’t a replacement for going to the gym or getting active, but it does burn more calories than not laughing. Try listening to a comedy station when you go to the gym for an added bonus.
Who makes you laugh?
Spending time with the people who make you laugh is always a good thing. Whether it’s going for a walk around the park or going out to (a healthy) dinner, whenever you get together with those friends and family members who make you smile, the result is that you feel good, which means your heart feels good too.
Mind over matters of the heart
We’re not referring to your love life, but more how laughter can help your mental state. How you’re feeling can impact your heart health in all sorts of ways, both good and bad. That’s why laughter is so great. It makes you feel good. If you were in a bad mood, you laugh a bit and now you’re in a good mood. You were stressed, you laugh, less stress. Simple.
“Periods of high stress and resultant high adrenaline levels have been linked to causing heart attacks,” Strote said. “If we assume those who laugh more generally have lower stress levels then those who do not, it stands to reason laughter can aid in general wellbeing.”
Look for a laugh.
There are opportunities all around you. Here are a few examples to start with:
– Have a game night with your family or friends.
– Goof around. Kids can be an endless source for this activity.
– When you watch TV, check out online videos or go to a movie, try to select a funny option more often than not.
– Check out a book from the humor section of your library.
– Just be silly, even at work.
– Do activities you think are fun – maybe laughter yoga.
Understanding these five ways laughter helps your heart is just the beginning. Remember, laughter is an especially powerful and positive part of improving your overall physical, mental and – especially – heart health.