Have you ever laughed so hard that you snorted? Maybe as you’re slapping your knee and gasping for air, you even start to sound like a barnyard animal!
Whatever the case, you should definitely keep doing it.
Because laughing is extremely good for your heart health!
You’ve likely heard that it releases endorphins, our body’s natural, feel-good chemicals, but you might be less familiar with the heart health benefits of laughter.
Let us get you up to speed!
The Benefits Of Laughter
When you have a good, hearty chuckle, your heart actually continues to reap the rewards hours later. Nothing funny about that!
The benefits of laughter are seriously no joke – it can literally reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attack by:
Stress has become a “normal” part of life for many people. Whether it comes from a job, family, or just life in general, stress puts a lot of strain on the heart. The tension that stress causes constricts blood flow and decreases circulation, and can result in rather significant damage to the heart. In fact, according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, sudden intense stress increases the short-term risk of heart attack. Too much stress over a long time (months to years) is called chronic stress. It can also increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
The act of laughing signals the release of your feel-good hormones, forcing your body to relax and let go of the negative symptoms associated with elevated stress levels. Laughter also stimulates circulation, which your heart desperately needs after being so stressed!
We wrote an entire blog on Stress and Heart Health. Check it out for more details on how stress impacts the heart.
Increasing Blood Flow & Decreasing Blood Pressure
Laughing makes your blood vessels expand and when your blood vessels expand, blood flow throughout your body improves. When you are laughing, your breathing cycles are also inherently deeper. This, coupled with the expansion of your blood vessels, means that you are circulating more oxygen-rich blood through your heart.
Less resistance means less pressure, so when blood vessels are relaxed and blood flow is increased, blood pressure decreases.
Increasing “Good” Cholesterol
Cholesterol is to blood what blood is to the heart – one can’t function without the other.
There are 2 types of cholesterol; HDL (the good kind) and LDL (the bad kind). LDL cholesterol is a real buzzkill and can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. HDL cholesterol is kind of like a bouncer – it “pushes” LDL cholesterol out of the way as it flows through the blood, sending it to the liver where it is then eliminated.
Laughter has been shown to increase good cholesterol.
Reducing Artery Inflammation
The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Among its many functions, it helps control blood clotting, vascular relaxation, and platelet adhesion.
The endothelium is also responsible for producing a powerful compound called nitric oxide. Along with contributing to an increased blood flow and reduced blood pressure, nitric oxide reduces inflammation and helps prevent plaque from developing in the arteries.
The endothelium is very sensitive to positive bodily actions. For example, when this membrane senses laughter, it releases more nitric oxide.
Laughter = Cardio
Yep, you read that right!
Laughing gets the heart pumping and has actually been shown to burn as many calories as a slow to moderately paced walk.
Laughing hard for about 10 – 15 minutes each day can burn up to 40 calories – that equates to about 3 pounds per year!
What Are Some Things I Can Do To Laugh More?
We don’t have to lose our child-like spirit when we grow up. Put on your favourite jam and dance around in front of your mirror. Climb a tree. Fly a kite. Build a blanket fort.
Don’t take yourself too seriously – your heart will thank you for it!
Whether your idea of fun is hanging out with friends, laying low with your family, sports, road tripping, cooking (you get the picture) – pencil it in!
Reach Out To An Old Friend
There is something so nostalgic about connecting with an old friend. Pick up the phone, send a text, or shoot them an email. Re-connect and reminisce about your hilarious memories!
Start Each Morning With A Joke
The internet is filled with daily joke sites. Search up jokes online when you need a laugh. Better yet, make your favourite joke site your homepage so you can start each day with a giggle!
It turns out that laughter really is the best medicine – it’s even free! The benefits of laughter are incredible for heart health, and it’s not hard to make laughing part of your daily routine. So be sure to LOL, ROFL, and Haha your way to a healthier, happier heart!