Laughter is the best medicine, or so the saying goes. What is it about laughing that makes us all feel so good? I mean think about it; don’t you just love a good belly laugh every now and again? You know one of those laughing fits where you’re rolling around holding your belly crying and begging for mercy. Those are the best kinds of laughs!
Even at Christmastime we refer to Santa Clause as “Jolly” Old Saint Nicholas. And for most of us the holiday season is filled with joy, laughter, and happy feelings. There’s so much that makes us happy at this moment in the year; Christmas parties, church functions, and gatherings with family and friends that brings a smile to even the grouchiest of scrooges.
So, wouldn’t it be great if laughter really was good for our health? Well, it is! “According to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore; laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack.”
“The old saying that ‘laughter is the best medicine,’ definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “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.”
In the research that was done Miller said that the most significant study finding was that “people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations.” They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility.”
Perhaps in the future we will be saying “A laugh a day keeps the doctor away” (ha-ha)! And in fact that’s just what Dr. Miller suggests. He states: “It may be possible to incorporate laughter into our daily activities, just as we do with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously,” Miller says. “The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.” You can check out the entire article for yourself at http://www.umm.edu/features/laughter.htm.
Also, CBS news published an article entitled Is Laughter The Best Medicine?
Why, For Some, Laughter Is The Best Medicine that gives an insight into what kind of effects laughter has on the body. The article states,
- Blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally — expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
- Immune response. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response, says Provine. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well.
- Blood sugar levels. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.
- Relaxation and sleep. The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousins’ memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that 10 minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep.
Pretty amazing, I thought. Hard to believe that just a few minutes of laughing a day could be a remedy for our medical ailments.
So, in light of the laughing mood I thought I would leave you with a little Christmas cheer. My husband introduced me to something called “Elf Yourself” on the office max website. I tried it and laughed so hard I thought I was going to fall off my chair. I hope you will take the time to click on the link and have a good laugh too!