Have a good laugh at least once a day. This sounds like a simple request, but many of us don’t take the time to make it a priority. This week set aside time each day to make sure you get at least one good belly laugh. Your body will thank you.

Not only does laughing provide a boost to your mood, it also does wonders for your body. Here is a list of just some of the many benefits of having a good sense of humor:

• Protect your heart with humor. A study at the University of Maryland indicates that laughter can help to prevent heart disease. Researchers interviewed 300 people; half had had a heart attack or bypass surgery while the other 150 were healthy volunteers of the same age. They found that those with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh at a variety of situations than their healthy counterparts.

• Boost your biochemistry. Researchers at Loma Linda University found that volunteers who watched a funny video showed a significant increase in several immune functions. A hearty laugh will increase your production of Natural Killer Cells, which are responsible for seeking out and destroying tumor cells. Gamma interferon, B-cells and T-cells are also increased.

• You’ll feel less stressed. Laughing reduces the levels of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol. It also causes tense muscles to relax and helps to alleviate pain.

• Increase your brain function. Laughing stimulates both the left and right sides of the brain, stimulating cognitive function.

• Breathe easier. According to Dr. Paul McGhee laughing decreases the amount of residual air in the lungs and replaces it with oxygen rich air. This decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in your body and increases the levels of oxygen and nutrients in your blood.

• You’ll get a great workout. The muscles in your stomach, back and face are involved when you laugh. Your internal organs also get a great massage which helps to strengthen your intestinal functions. Plus – if you had 100-200 belly laughs a day you’d burn as many calories as a high impact workout (about 500).

So this week rent a funny movie. Start reading the comics. Get together and play a humorous game with your friends. And remember what Grouch Marx said “A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.”

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