You may not appreciate getting pranked with a whoopee cushion or hot sauce in your food on April Fool’s Day, but a good laugh may be just what the doctor ordered.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, and a report from the Society for Vascular Surgery shows kicking it off with laughter can be very beneficial for your vascular health.
“Laughter increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels,” Dr. Vivienne Halpern, from the Society for Vascular Surgery said in a press release. “Reducing stress is especially beneficial for persons who have hypertension (high blood pressure).”
Stress and high blood pressure can have detrimental effects on the body. The combination of pressure at work, financial issues, and personal or relationship problems can all raise blood pressure and cause hypertension, and even cardiovascular disease.
Studies have shown that a good laugh on a regular basis can even help prevent you from getting sick.
SLIDESHOW: 5 Ways Laughing Can Heal
“Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine, and growth hormone) and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones (endorphins and neurotransmitters),” she said. “This can result in a stronger immune system and fewer physical effects of stress.”
Feeling tense? Laughing relaxes the muscles for up to 45 minutes afterward.
High blood pressure is a problem for one in every three adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death.
Along with laughing, a healthy lifestyle can reduce high blood pressure and the chance of stroke and heart attack as well as peripheral arterial disease that can lead to limb loss. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and exercising regularly.
Click here to read more from the Society for Vascular Surgery.