Humor for Your Heart

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March 22, 2017 by thewashingteenian

By: Hunter Seymour, Staff Reporter

Have you had a good laugh today?

If you have not then you better get a good one in before the day is over because it could save your life. Laughter is our bodies biological reaction to moments of humor. Humor is an aspect of our everyday lives that many of us easily overlook, however, it can increase your quality of life.

Humor and laughter have long been considered to have some positive impacts on our health but, their benefits have not been scientifically revealed until the past couple of centuries. Humor therapy was first revealed in 1979 when MD-holder Norman Cousins authored the book “Anatomy of Illnesses”.

His book elaborated on how Norman used laughter to help ease the severe pain of the inflammation of his tissues he was experiencing due to a non curable disease. Since then research has led to the revelation that laughter has many mental, physical and chemical benefits to the healthy life that all of us want to live.

Everyday life has its stresses.

These stresses can cause our everyday lives to be tougher than they should be. They can also cause us to be more susceptible to infections and cause our personal behavior to be affected. However, according to the Mayo clinic, laughter has some short term effects that help reduce our stresses and the effects they have on our bodies.

Our bodies stress response can be quickly fired up and cooled down when we react to humor. This causes a temporary increase in our blood pressure and heart rate that results in an overall relaxed feeling and helps to relieve our stress. Many of us also suffer from physical symptoms of stress such as tense and achy muscles.

Laughter can also help with these symptoms through relaxing the muscles not included in laughter while you’re laughing and follow up with relaxing the utilized muscles after your laughter has ended. Having a good laugh every now and again can help you cope with even the most problematic of situations and help to release some of the stresses that always seem to come with them.

I now want you to close your eyes and think of something that makes you laugh whether it is your basic video of a cat chasing a laser pointer and runs into a wall or just a good “Yo’ Momma” joke.

If you could laugh at that for at least one minute then you just gave your body a very effective workout. According to William Fry, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, one minute of laughter equals ten minutes of working out on the rowing machine. This workout stemmed from laughter can provide good conditioning for your cardiac, facial, back, and abdominal muscles and is said to be the equivalent of “internal jogging.”

 

Humor also has many positive effects on the different systems of our body. One of the higher effected systems is the cardiovascular system and the heart. University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore has done a recent study that shows that there may be a connection between laughter and prevention of heart disease. The study found that patients with heart disease had a lower sense of humor, were 40 percent less likely to laugh in different situations, and displayed more hostility and anger in different situations.

The reason that laughter seems to have some correlation with heart disease has not quite yet been fully determined but it does have some effect on our heart’s overall health. Our immune system is critical for fighting diseases. Studies at Loma Linda University have revealed that laughter strengthens that process by increasing the amount of antibodies, which fight infection, in our blood.

Overall, humor helps support our body’s systems in ways that we did not know it could.

Hormones are molecules that circulate through our bodies and regulate our physiology (normal functions of living organisms) and behaviour. If these hormones fluctuate between their normal levels in the body, they can cause illnesses, stress, and other problems for our health.

However, laughter can help regulate hormone levels as well. According to the University of Kentucky’s Health Education Through Extension Leadership program, laughter has been proven to reduce at least four of the neuro-endocrine hormones associated with stress and other illnesses. These hormones are cortisol, dopamine, growth hormone, and epinephrine. Laughter can also increase the production of neuropeptides which help fight stress and other serious illnesses.

Overall, everybody needs to have some form of humor and laughter in their lives. This behavioral action, however small and quick it may be, is vital for the homeostatic balance and improvement of your health and quality of life.

Laughter is so important in our lives that babies began to laugh at the age of four months. This is two months earlier than the earliest an average baby will start to form words such as “mama”.

It is not even just that laughter has many health benefits that we may not have known about, but the fact that it lightens up our moods and everybody around us. This makes the highly tense and stressful world  around us seem a little more bearable. And who knows, it might just save your life one day.

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