Laughing Really Is Good For Your Health

Lately, there have been a good deal of interesting studies that have demonstrated the beneficial effects positive emotions can have on your health.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine did a study of their own based on the ability of blood vessels to expand, better known as vasodilation. (Poor expansion of the blood vessels can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes by making the passageways prone to being blocked, cutting off vital blood flow.)

Scientists measured the blood vessels of 20 healthy men and women watching clips of two movies: The violent opening battle scene from the World War II epic Saving Private Ryan or a humorous scene from a comedy, like Bill Murray's Kingpin.

Not surprisingly, there were sharp differences in vasodilation in patients depending on the film. All but one of the patients enjoyed a marked increase in blood flow after watching a comedy. Conversely, 70 percent suffered from highly reduced blood flow after viewing the drama. Put simply, the improvement in blood flow after laughter equalled the beneficial effect of a workout lasting up to a half-hour.

Researchers only have theories about why laughter works so well. It may be tied to the release of endorphins or other body chemicals that enhance blood flow or boost the immune system. No matter what the physical trigger may be, you'll find several links on this site like this one that will lead you to tasteful jokes to get you started on your merry way!

Washington Post March 14, 2005

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