A laugh a day, keeps the doctor away...

Laughter is a fun, free and easy way to reduce the effects of stress, pain and conflict. The health benefits from a rolling belly laugh can last up to 45 minutes after the event!

Laughing is a great way to release tension, relax and naturally improve the function of your blood vessels to increase blood flow. All of this protects your heart by lowering your risk for heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. Humour and playful communication strengthen relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection.

Have you ever thought about humour as being the best way to create a psychological distance between you and a difficult situation? Humour allows you to re-examine the situation with a fresh perspective and help you feel less overwhelmed or distraught.

Humour and playful interactions not only strengthen our relationships by triggering stronger emotional bonds and positive feelings, but they also create a buffer against unhealthy stress responses as well as its consequences to your health.

When was the last time you laughed uncontrollably? If you can’t remember, it’s time to find something that you find amusing! Your heart will thank you in the most incredible ways. When you have a good laugh, you can reap the heart-healthy benefits and here’s how..

Decrease stress hormones

Stress constricts your blood vessels and decreases your circulation. Chronic stress can leave you vulnerable to serious conditions such as heart disease, blood clots and heart attack. Laughter stimulates circulation and helps relax your muscles, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress as well as the health risks to your heart. Laughter can lighten burdens, inspire hope and encourage deeper connections. It is also a great way to reduce feelings of anger, which is a common stress trigger.

Reduce your risk of heart disease

Laughter is good for your cardiovascular system because it helps prevent a build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls. Laughing leaves a lasting and positive effect on your blood pressure and relaxes your body. Seeking out positive or humorous experiences can change your physiology and help you stay well.

Reduce artery inflammation

A good hearty laugh causes the inner lining of your blood vessels to dilate by releasing nitric oxide, a chemical compound that helps reduce inflammation and prevent plaque from forming in your arteries. Laughing, in fact, may be just as effective at reducing inflammation as engaging in aerobic exercise or taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins.

Increase “good” cholesterol levels

High LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) can lead to heart disease if it is left untreated. Laughing has shown to positively affect the HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) in your body. Good cholesterol flows through your blood and pushes the bad cholesterol out of your arteries, back to the liver. It is then eliminated. Laugher is particularly important for diabetics, who usually have lower HDL cholesterol levels. Diabetics who laugh approximately 30 minutes a day increase their HDL cholesterol about 26 percent at the end of 12 consecutive months.

Improve blood vessel function

Laughter may encourage your endothelium, the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, to expand and increase blood flow. Having a healthy endothelium can help prevent atherosclerosis (a hardening of the blood vessels) and cardiovascular disease.

Increase blood flow

When you laugh your blood vessels expand, increasing blood flow throughout your body. Having a healthy blood flow means your heart, muscles, arms and legs are getting an optimal flow of oxygen-rich blood, which helps reduce your risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

So whatever you do this week, take time to laugh!