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By Rebecca Fending
When people think of their health, they tend to think of surface-level issues such as weight or other physical imperfections. However, our internal health often goes unnoticed until something goes horribly wrong.
The age-old precautionary advice of, “Healthy diet and exercise!” isn’t just your doctor looking to lecture you for fun. A balanced daily diet of each food group and light exercise is what keeps your heart healthy, strong and reliable throughout your life. And while aerobics and a leafy salad are a great way to thank your body for keeping you going, the act of laughing is a great way to keep your heart in shape while lifting your spirits.
The importance of laughing for your health
According to Providence.org, the difference between the number of times an adult laughs during the day versus a child is astounding. A child lets out a giggle anywhere between 300 to 400 times each day. An adult only laughs a measly 26 times on average throughout the day. Twenty-six. This difference likely has something to do with a child’s blissful ignorance for the worldly pressures around them, something adults can’t help but worry about given our grownup duties and responsibilities. But what does laughing do for our bodies?
Letting out a chuckle directly helps your heart by relieving pressures such as stress and tension through lowered blood pressure, according to HenryFord.com. The act of laughing increases circulation which helps relax your muscles and mind at the same time, as well as encourages your heart to beat at a steady pace. Laughing also encourages your body to take deeper breaths. This helps oxygenate the blood as it circulates within the body, delivering more oxygen to important bits such as the brain and extremities.
Laughing indirectly helps keep the heart healthy through weight regulation. The leading causes of weight gain are a mix between over consumption and lack of exercise, as well as stress. When the body is stressed, it produces a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone acts as stimulant for insulin production, creating a craving for sugary sweets and general appetite even when you aren’t hungry. As laughing helps reduce stress and thereby cortisol levels in the body, it helps keep weight gain at bay. Plus, laughing burns calories!
So, if you’re in need of a laugh for your heart or your spirit, be sure to read Michael Wright’s column, “The Wright Stuff,” or Susan Goldfein’s self-titled column in print or online at LifestylesAfter50.com to kickstart your month with a chuckle.