Lacking a sense of humor might not just be bad for your social life, it might also be harming your cardiovascular health. A new study shows that laughter actually increases blood flow in the body, proving right the old adage that laughter is the best medicine, at least when it comes to the heart.
Cardiologist Michael Miller and colleagues at the University of Maryland tested blood flow in 20 healthy men and women after they watched 15-to-30-minute clips of the comedy movies Kingpin and There's Something About Mary and a stressful film, the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. The researchers measured blood flow both before each viewing and one minute after it ended. "We wanted to see whether laughter induced a vascular response," Miller explains.
Prior research inspired the team to conduct the experiment. A series of questionnaires administered to sufferers of coronary heart disease by the cardiologists revealed that patients who had suffered a heart attack failed to find the humor in a situation, such as wearing the same outfit to a party, 40 percent more often than their healthy counterparts.