A hearty laugh a day may keep the doctor away, say the findings of a unique study.

Big laugh

Whereas previous studies have examined how negative emotions can adversely affect our health, this study took a new spin–they measured the affect of watching a funny movie on the ability of heart blood vessels to expand. And they found some surprising results–laughing increased blood flow as much as a 15- to 30-minute workout.

The ability of blood vessels to expand is known as vasodilation. Poor vasodilation means that passageways may be blocked and blood flow may be cut off. The result is an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

In the study, 20 healthy men and women watched clips of two movies–a violent battle scene from “Saving Private Ryan” or a humorous scene from a comedy such as “Kingpin.” Each participant’s vasodilation was measured prior to the movie and again afterward.

The results were “dramatic.” Of the 20 participants who saw the stressful film, 14 had significantly reduced blood flow. However, after watching the funny film, 19 of the 20 volunteers had significantly increased blood flow.

Source: A Laugh a Day to Keep the Doctor Away? 4/2/05

About this entry