Does anything feel better than a really honest belly laugh?
For years, studies have shown how laughing through life is beneficial for your health. Laughing lowers stress, reduces anger, and forces us to breathe. But there is a specific science to laughter and why it is so good for your heart. Here are the top 5 reasons you should laugh every single day:
- Increased blood flow. When you laugh, your brain releases beta-endorphins, which leads to the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a powerful chemical that dilates the endothelium, the inner lining of your blood vessels. Nitric oxide also reduces inflammation and prevents the buildup of cholesterol.
- It counts as cardio. Laughter has the same benefits of a cardio workout! It gets your heart pumping and burns the same amount of calories as walking. Not to mention, it lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol.
- It strengthens your immune system. Studies show that laughing can boost your NK (natural killer) cells. NK cells are a type of white blood cell that play a major role in fighting off viruses and bacteria.
- Reduced stress. Cortisol and epinephrine are two of the hormones that are released when your body is exposed to stress. Long-term release of these hormones can lead to depression, anxiety, weight gain, and increase your risk of heart disease. Laughing reduces the stress hormones in your body, which opens up blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
- The benefits last. Laughter is spontaneous and there are so many different types. Studies show that the effects of “mirthful” laughter can last 24 hours. Arteries stay relaxed and stress levels stay low.
We all know the cliché—“laughter is the best medicine”. We’ve all probably shrugged it off. But now, you can feel good about writing yourself a prescription for watching a comedy, listening to a podcast, or talking to your best friend on the phone. As English poet Lord Byron once said: “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine”. We couldn’t agree more.
The Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-ways-laughter-can-give-healthier-heart-2/
Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/laugh-and-be-thankful-its-good-for-the-heart-20101124839
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: https://share.upmc.com/2014/12/laughter-can-benefit-heart/
Bochennek K, Lehrnbecher T, Schmidt S, Ullrich E, Zimmerman SY Role of natural killer cells in antibacterial immunity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27791439