Wellness

Laughter Can Boost Your Heart

A Frenchman walks into a bar with a duck on his head.  The bartender says, “Where’d you get that?” and the duck says, “In France. They’ve got millions of ‘em.”

You’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine. It’s obvious that laughter is a great stress reliever, but two 2009 Japanese studies presented to the American College of Sports Medicine found that this adage may be true for heart health as well.

Groups of healthy adults watched either a comedy or a documentary film while their blood flow was monitored.  The groups watching the comedy movies showed increased blood flow through the arteries as well as dilated blood vessels, both of which are associated with healthy blood pressure.

And the effect lasted:  “Arterial compliance [and blood vessel dilation] improved for a full 24 hours after subjects watched a funny movie,” said lead researcher Jun Sugawara. “Laughing is likely not the complete solution to a healthy heart, but it appears to contribute to positive effects.”

So have a good laugh.  Just like any other part of a well-rounded life, laughter is something you can deliberately seek out.  Here are some ideas to increase your good humor:

Try taking yourself less seriously.

Did you just explode a bag flour all over the rug?  Classic three stooges move.  Have a good laugh with whoever saw it.

Call up the friends you laugh with

Go out and have a good time.  A 2010 Brigham Young University study showed that being social has more effect on life span than exercise or even obesity.

Go see some standup

There are standup comedy events every day in the bay area. Search for one and get out of the house.

Ask coworkers and friends for funny stories

You’ll become known as the person who wants to hear hilarious stories rather than gossip or complaints.

Download comedy

Download some comedy albums for the ride to work.  A few suggestions:  Mitch Hedberg, Jim Gaffigan, Ellen Degeneres, Steven Wright, Todd Barry, Mike Birbiglia

Watch a few hilarious videos 

At www.funnyordie.com or www.comedycentral.com

Read the Onion

America’s satirical newspaper at www.theonion.com.

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