Health

The healing powers of laughter

15 minutes a day of laughter is as important as 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week

Holly Firfer, CNN - NEW YORK (CNN) - Want a quick and easy way to beat stress? A good belly laugh. Researchers say the healing power of laughter is real.

Whoever said laughter is the best medicine was on to something. Over the years, scientists have found that laughter is great for your health.

"Some studies suggest it lowers blood pressure, there have been other investigators who have shown it may have an effect on immune response, so perhaps better response from someone who has a common cold or infections when they laugh," said Dr. Michael Miller of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Researchers have found when you laugh, really laugh, it opens up your blood vessels, causing less stress on your heart. And it can also de-stress the rest of the body by releasing endorphins from the brain.

That's good, because stress can cause the brain to overload with chemicals that could lead to high blood pressure, even a stroke or heart attack.

"You can easily counteract a stressful response with laughter," said Dr. Michael Miller.

In fact, research shows that 15 minutes a day of laughter, real deep belly laughter, is as important for your heart as 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week.

Now, that doesn't mean you should skip the gym and watch Woody Allen movies every day, but giggling a lot is therapeutic.

Best way to chuckle? Doctors recommend, stay in touch with those you love and love being with. Studies have shown that people with a strong friend base are healthier, both mentally and physically.

Copyright 2015, CNN. All rights reserved.

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