Can you vividly remember the last time you had a great laugh? Thinking about those memories transports your mind back to the time when you would hold your belly with tears threatening out of your eyes due to intense laughter. We have been so tied down with our worries and illnesses while affecting our mind and body severely that we all have forgotten to have a good laugh.
How does laughing relax your blood vessels?
Laughing is beneficial for your blood vessels since it affects the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels. The endothelium is responsible for the relaxation of blood vessels, an increase of the blood flow, and regulation of blood pressure.
A study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD observed that laughing during a funny movie affected the endothelium that led to the relaxation of blood vessels and better flow of blood with lowered blood pressure.
On the contrary, this study and other research works also state that experiencing mental stress can narrow the blood vessels while reducing blood flow that, in turn, reduces the amount of blood flowing to other parts of the body, further leading to increased blood pressure.
Researchers at Osaka University in Japan carried out a study to determine whether laughter interventions would reduce blood pressure. The results were surprising as the blood pressure was decreased by 5 mmHg among those who took part in the sessions designed to make them laugh and by 7 mmHg immediately after the laughter sessions. People who did not take part in the laughter sessions showed no change in the blood pressure readings.
An advantage with laughter is that its effects on the blood pressure have been found to last 24 hours. Laughter is the cheapest prescription that can also be self-medicated. Perceiving the funny side of life and the silver lining in a complex situation is the key and bestows several health benefits.
Laughing your way towards lower blood pressure:
Laughter yoga, a fusion of playful laughter exercises linked with gentle breathing and stretching, inhales more oxygen to the body and brain, further resulting in significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and stress levels.
Do not make your laugh dangerous:
We recommend you to follow the safest approach in avoiding any extreme action. Forced and extreme laughter is not beneficial and mandatory. After a certain point, happy hormones are not produced, and the body cries for help. Too much of anything can be toxic.
- Take your heart and your brain along with you. Always consult your doctor first before starting any exercise regime.
- A smile will work wonders. Respect your boundaries, keep your health your priority and be gentle to yourself.
- No added pain! Do not propel or compel your body into doing anything painful or uncomfortable. The advice of a medical professional is essential before participating in any form of laughter exercises.
- Laugh heartily, drink cognizant. Your body might be ringing warning bells if you feel heaviness in the head or mild to moderate headaches after laughter. Be gentle with yourself and drink more water.
In conclusion, laughter is linked to chemical changes in the body that potentially reduces stress and increases pain tolerance. There is not much to lose in laughing, so why not try it.
- Miller M, Fry WF. The effect of mirthful laughter on the human cardiovascular system. Medical hypotheses. 2009 Nov 1;73(5):636-9.
- Arrighi JA, Burg MM, Cohen IS, Kao AH, Pfau S, Caulin-Glaser T, Zaret BL, Soufer R. Myocardial blood-flow response during mental stress in patients with coronary artery disease. Lancet. 2000 Jul 22;356(9226):310-311.
- Music and laughter may help lower blood pressure [Internet]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20110325/music-and-laughter-may-help-lower-blood-pressure.
- American Heart Association. Does humor help your heart? How? [Internet]. Available from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Humor-helps-your-heart-How_UCM_447039_Article.jsp#.Xg4H5EczbIU.
- Laughing your way to lower blood pressure and less stress [Internet]. [cited 2005 May 15]. Available from: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/574552.
- Laughter Online University. Heart health: why laughter helps, saves lives [Internet]. Available from: https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/heart-health-and-laughter/.
- Louie D, Brook K, Frates E. The laughter prescription: a tool for lifestyle medicine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016 Jul;10(4):262-267.