Laugh a little - It could help your heart- Dean - WI

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Published on February 08, 2016

Laugh a Little - It Could Help Your Heart

A famous author once said “laughter is inner jogging.”  While that may be a bit of a stretch, doctors agree it has a variety of benefits.

“Laughter can help your body by releasing endorphins, which makes you feel good, but it also decreases stress hormones in your body, and helps blood flow,” says Megan Jensen, MD a Family Medicine physician with Dean Medical Group - Sun Prairie.

Health experts encourage parents to teach their kids about the benefits of a good sense of humor at any age.  The Mayo Clinic says laughter can help the body produce natural painkillers.  It can also improve your immune system to fight serious illnesses.  The American Heart Association adds that laughter can reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol.

Norman Cousins, the author who compared laughing to jogging, wanted to put it to the test.   After being diagnosed with a crippling disease during the 1960’s, he came up with a recovery strategy that relied partly on humor and positive thoughts.  Cousins lived years longer than doctors predicted, before passing away in 1990 at the age of 75.  Cousins told his story in the book “Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient.”  Researchers today continue to study the effects of regular chuckles and giggles.  They don’t have exact numbers for how much is needed to have a benefit.  And experts aren’t sure what types are the best for you.  

“It’s not clear whether you need a hard belly laugh or a sustained laugh,” says Dr. Megan Jensen.  “But any type that’s going to boost your mood and release endorphins will be helpful.”

So try to find time to fit in a little laughter.  Brushing up on your knock-knock jokes or enjoying funny movies together as a family could end up helping you more than you may think.

Time for Kids & Channel 3

We are proud to partner with WISC-TV Channel 3 on this important initiative.

Visit the Time for Kids section on for more resources on keeping kids healthy!

Related Services

Looking for assistance with your diet and eating habits? Check out the services of:

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