If you’re not sure what to pick on Netflix tonight, there are some good reasons to peruse the comedy section.
Laughing not only feels good, but it turns out it can do some good for your short- and long-term health:
Laughing lowers blood pressure
Research suggests laughing positively impacts the blood flow of a person after they’ve had a good chuckle.
This study, for instance, observed an increased dilation of blood vessels in people who watched a funny movie.
Arterial compliance was improved for 24 hours after the test subjects watched the movie, said lead researcher Jun Sugawara. “Laughing is likely not the complete solution to a healthy heart, but it appears to contribute to positive effects,” Sugawara explained.
Laughing improves immunity
Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University, California told TIME how laughter is linked to lower levels of inflammation, and more activity of killer cells in the body. These killer cells aid your immune system in fending off disease from the body.
“Many of these same things also happen when you sleep right, eat right, and exercise,” Berk said, which is why he categorizes laughter under traditional healthy lifestyle activities.
Related: The Health Benefits of Love
Laughing relieves pain
In a number of experiments, participants seemed to exhibit improved pain tolerance when laughing with a group.
“When laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change,” the authors of the paper wrote.
It’s not understood why, though researchers believe laughter may release brain chemicals and endorphins in the body that boost the ability to deal with pain.
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