Written by Joe Suppes

Everyone wants to be happy, right?  Well, come to find out, your heart wants to be happy, too.  A happy heart is not only stronger overall, but happy people tend to be more likely to be active.  Happy people also generally have more self-esteem, which means they’re more likely to take good care of themselves.

Happiness = Heart Health?

So what’s all this talk about making your heart happy?  Well, some research has gone into how emotional health plays into physical health.  It’s been found that people who partake in personally-fulfilling activities are more likely to have stronger, healthier hearts.  One study by the University Medical Center in Baltimore focused on the mechanics of laughter and music within someone’s physical health.

It’s Hard Work to Be Happy

Laughter is a physically demanding activity!  20 minutes a day is said to relieve the same amount of physical and mental stress as running a mile.  Laughter burns calories, and works core muscles, like abs and obliques.  That’s why your side or your stomach hurts after you laugh too hard.  Not only is laughter hard work, but it also causes chemical triggers in your brain.  These chemicals release stress-relief hormones, which is good for your heart.  Your brain also releases chemicals that cause your vessels to dilate, improving blood flow.  Theoretically, the more you laugh, the better your circulation can be.  (Granted, it doesn’t always work that way.)

Music Makes the Heart Stronger

Come to find out, music has similar effects.  People who partake in creating music, whether it’s by instrument or voice, are more likely to have high levels of the same anti-stress and vessel-dilation chemicals that are released during laughter.  Apart from music being emotionally calming and a form of expression to people who take part in it, it’s got some good physical effects, too.

Make Some “You” Time

Over the long term, people who did activities that gave them a sense of belonging or serenity were more likely to have better heart health.  Whether it’s by playing a musical instrument, maintaining a garden, cooking, or being a member of a bowling team, people who do something that makes them feel good about themselves are more likely to have good cardiovascular health.  It’s also important to note that many of the activities that bring about these good feelings require at least some physical activity.  I’m afraid that watching TV on the couch all day can’t count as your self-enriching activity!

I guess the moral of the story here is that it’s great for you to do something for yourself.  There’s nothing wrong with being a happy person.  In fact, it could save your life.

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