Laughter is the best medicine. (No joke!)

Laughter is the best medicine

A University of Maryland Medical Center study says so It turns out that a good laugh is more than good for your health: a sense of humor may help keep you from having a heart attack.

A few years ago, doctors at Baltimore's University of Maryland Medical Center got out little rubber hammers and started in on 300 peoples' funny bones. All right, we're just joking about the hammers, but the doctors did in fact test peoples' humor reflexes. In the study, 150 of these people had heart surgery or heart attacks in the past, and the other 150 subjects were of the same age without heart trouble.

The study had two sets of questions: one part asked how likely each person was to laugh at things like finding out you're wearing the same outfit as someone else at the same party; the other part asked "true-false" questions about each person's anger and hostility.

The results were surprising. The people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to find the humor in things than the healthy people and were also more likely to be more angry in general.

"The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller, M.D., Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, in a school press release. Dr. Miller went on to say that maybe we should make laughing part of our daily routines, just as we do with other heart-healthy things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. "We know that exercising, not smoking, and eating healthy foods will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list. We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously," he says. "The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be — exercise, eat right, and laugh a few times a day."

Another University of Maryland Medical Center Study, done in 2005, showed that laughter may also be good for your blood vessels because it expands them, which helps make for better blood flow.

So take two Mel Brooks movies and give a friend a good tickle in the morning. You might be healthier for it!