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The Fitness Zone

Laughter is the best medicine for heart health
October 4, 2011

New research from the US has shown that watching a funny movie or indeed laughing at anything has an instantly positive impact on vascular health. Correspondingly, watching a stress-inducing film was found to have the opposite effect.

Dr Michael Miller, lead researcher and Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, said, The idea to study positive emotions, such as laughter came about after studies had shown that mental stress caused blood vessels to constrict.

When watching the harrowing opening sequence to Saving Private Ryan, study subjects' blood vessel linings developed a reduced blood flow response known as vasoconstriction an expected outcome based on previous findings linking stress to narrowed blood vessels. After watching segments of the comedy There's something about Mary, however, the lining of the blood vessel expanded.

Over 300 measurements showed a difference in blood vessel diameter of between 30 and 50% (between both group). Miller said, The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium after laughing was consistent and similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic exercise or statin use. The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, so it is very possible that laughing on a regular basis may be useful to incorporate as part of an overall healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease. In other words, eat your veggies, exercise and get a good belly laugh every day.

Source: European Society of Cardiology

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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