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Laughter: The Heart Healthy Way Essay

1069 words - 4 pages

In Chamfort, Maximes et pensées, Sébastien-Roch Nicolas said, “The most wasted day of all is that in which we have not laughed.” To many this may seem like a trivial thing to say, there are, after all, much more important things to worry about, like fighting disease. Long ago laughter was just an expression of joy or happiness. It was also often used to fill those awkward moments when one isn’t sure how to respond to a comment. However, as the world grows in technology, laughter has evolved as well. Recent studies show that laughter may be more beneficial then we realize; it may even be an important tool to fighting the illnesses that often engulf so many of our lives. More than just an expression of joy, laughter improves blood circulation, decreases the level of stress hormones, and helps the body fight illnesses.One important aspect of laughter is its effect on one’s circulatory system. Many researchers have managed to show the benefits of laughter on blood circulation. It is agreed by most that while stress slows the blood flow, laughter is able to improve it. In a study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, 20 healthy volunteers were showed two movies, one funny and one stress-inducing. While they watched the movie, researchers tested the volunteers’ blood flow. Blood flow was reduced in 14 of the subjects after the stressful film; after the comedy, improved circulation was noted in 19 of the participants (Tufts 3).Researchers at the American College of Cardiology put on a similar study. Volunteers watched scenes from humorous movies such as Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary and emotional movies like Saving Private Ryan. They reported that “laughing appeared to cause inner lining of the blood vessels, known as endothelium, to open wider, increasing blood flow. Sad or scary stuff brought an emotional stress that caused the tissue to temporarily shrink, and that slowed the flow.” (U.S. 58)The affect of laughter on one’s circulatory system isn’t focused on only the improvement of the blood flow. There are other aspects of laughter equally as beneficial to one’s blood circulation. When laughter causes the endothelium to dilate, it results in the production of chemicals that regulate blood flow and prevent clotting and blood thickening. However, on the other side, when emotional stress causes the tissue to shrink, the endothelium begins the production of chemicals that result in the clotting of blood and leads to fat deposits in the heart. (U.S. 58)Not only does laughter improve blood circulation, it also reduces one’s stress level. It is able to improve one’s morale and out-look on life. Many researchers have noted that of people who are depressed or suicidal, the ones most likely to overcome their illness are those willing to take the time to tell a joke or find humor in a not-so-pleasant occasion. By reducing the stress hormone coritsol, laughter...

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