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Friday, July 29, 2011

Laughter Is Good Medicine

Maybe you've heard that stress is the "silent killer", but did you know that laughter can counteract that affect? Yes, laughter has been referred to as "good medicine". Laughter releases endorphins, nature's feel good chemical, which contributes to an overall sense of well-being.

A good hearty bellow of laughter relieves stress and helps you to sleep better because it leaves your muscles less tense for about 45 minutes after you stop laughing. In addition, a good session of laughter contributes to a stronger immune system. Laughter also improves circulation and blood flow, making for a stronger heart.

Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has this comment, "We don't know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack."

According to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center, people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease. The research study compared the humor responses of 300 people.

Half of the participants had either suffered a heart attack or undergone coronary artery bypass surgery. The other half had never been diagnosed with heart disease. Some of the questions were used to measure how much people laughed in certain situations. Other questions were used to measure anger and hostility.

Dr. Miller reported that the most significant finding was that "people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations." It was also revealed that they displayed more anger and hostility. Dr. Miller adds, "The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be to 'exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.' "

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