When did you last have a good belly laugh? New research has found that getting giggly isn’t just good for our wellbeing, it’s also crucial for keeping our heart healthy.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine study found that laughter is linked to the health of blood vessels. Researchers discovered that when we laugh, the inner lining of our blood vessels (known as the endothelium) dilate or expand. This then increases blood flow, which helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
What Did the Study Involve?
The study involved 20 healthy non-smokers, with an average age of 33. All participants had normal cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure.
While lying in a temperature-controlled room, the volunteers watched two movies, one of which produced a stress response and one of which caused laughter. While watching a 15-minute segment of each film, their endothelium was assessed and ultrasound images were taken.
Interestingly, after the stress-causing video clips were shown, 14 out of 20 volunteers experienced reduced artery flow. However, after watching the laughter-generating film, 19 of the 20 volunteers experienced relaxed blood vessels.
On average, blood flow increased 22 percent during states of relaxation and decreased 35 percent when the volunteer was placed under mental stress.
What do the Results Mean?
Lead researcher Dr Michael Miller said that laughter essentially “offsets the impact of mental stress”, which harms the endothelium. He prescribes 15 minutes of laughter each day to ensure a healthy heart and functioning cardiovascular system.
Don’t feel like laughing? A laugher yoga class may help. Check out our article What is Laughter Therapy to find out more.
So what are you waiting for? Have a laugh today!