Laughter is the best-kept health secret

From your heart to your immune system, the health benefits of humour extend far beyond a good mood

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Amazing things happen to your body when you laugh. On top of releasing mood-elevating chemicals like serotonin and endorphins, the typical giggle fit can trigger an immediate physiological response: Your heart rate increases, your blood vessels expand, and you take in more oxygen. This increases blood flow, relaxes muscles, and regulates blood pressure.

In fact, your body’s response when you laugh can even help reduce tension and relieve pain. Of course, laughter is also a powerful relationship tool. When people laugh it puts others at ease and helps make everyone feel more tolerant and less irritable. At the end of the day, there’s nothing like a good belly laugh to reduce stress. Bring more humour to your life by booking a date with your funniest friend (we all have one!) or watching a silly video on YouTube. And never underestimate the power of poking fun at yourself.

Three surprising reasons to laugh

1. It fights disease: U.S. research suggests people who laugh a lot are less likely to get cancer and more likely to beat the disease if diagnosed. One study also revealed that laughter may protect against heart attacks and found people with cardiac disease are 40 percent less likely to laugh at things than others.

2. It breaks the ice: To feel more at ease in a room full of strangers, tune in to the sound of laughter. Then walk over to that spot. Not only is laughter contagious, it’s a great bonding tool. And even if you don’t join in the conversation, simply hearing laughter will help put a smile on your face, which will make you appear more easygoing and approachable.

3. It boosts salary: One survey of successful business executives found that those whose performance was rated as outstanding used more humour than their counterparts. Even better news? They got bigger bonuses.

Karyn Gordon is a leading relationship expert. Watch her Wednesdays on CityLine (9 a.m. EST)
or visit her website for more great advice.

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