A recent research has confirmed that laughter is still the best medicine and has a positive effect on blood vessels. The research scientists found that watching a funny movie had a healthy effect on blood vessel function and allows them to expand and contract more effectively in response to changes in blood flow. On the other hand watching a war drama or any other mentally stressful movie causes the thinning of blood vessels, narrows them and restricts the blood flow.
The inner lining of blood vessels is known as endothelium. This endothelium plays an important role as it is the first line in development of atherosclerosis/hardening of the arteries. So, the results of this study indicate that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Besides this laughing also reduces mental stress which is harmful to the endothelium.
Researchers took a group of 20 healthy men and women and showed them two movies at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, and then measured the movies’ effects on their blood vessels via ultrasound. On separate days the participants watched a 30-minute segment of Saving Private Ryan (a war drama thought to cause mental stress) and King Pin (a comedy that would cause laughter). Blood vessel reactivity was measured before and after watching the movies.
The results showed that each movie provoked remarkably different effects on blood vessels function. On an average artery diameter increased by 22% during laughter and decreased by 35% during mental stress.
The researchers said “the magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium is similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic activity, but without the aches, pains, and muscle tension associated with exercise”. They further suggested that laughter along with physical exercise is probably good for the entire vascular system