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Have a laugh!

Adventist Health Mind

Maybe you put plastic spiders in your coworker's desk, or swapped your sister's deodorant with cream cheese, or put rubber bands around all the faucets in your house-we've all taken part in our fair share of April Fool's Day pranks. But did you know that the entire month of April is National Humor Month?

April Fool's Day has been delighting (and maybe pestering) us since around the 16th century-or so we think. The popular theory is that the day became legendary when the Christian world switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar; the "joke" being that people may be fooled by the start of the new year. While the origins of this prank-filled day are still blurry, one thing we know for sure is that the goal is to evoke laughter, silliness and folly.

But why not keep the laughter rolling throughout the entire month? Studies have shown that busting a (theoretical) gut is not only good for your mental health, but also your physical health. When you laugh, your intake of oxygen-rich air activates your muscles, lungs and heart, which increases the endorphins released by your brain. This not only soothes tension, but can significantly bring down your stress levels.

Laughter can also help boost your immune system. Over time, a lot of negative thoughts can cause chemical reactions in your body that can weaken the immune system, but positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that can help your body fight stress and illness. Really!

Other studies have shown that watching comedic films can improve heart health. Your ticker is sensitive to stress and a negative mood, but evidence has shown that when people laugh during a funny movie, their blood vessels became more dilated, thus improving blood flow to the heart. On the flip side, when blood vessels are constricted it can lead to high blood pressure. So maybe it's time to admit that your favorite movie isn't My Dog Skip, but really Napoleon Dynamite.

Looking to add some variety to your fitness routine? Try adding a solid 10-15 minutes of laughter to your day-you can burn up to 50 calories! While it doesn't seem like a significant amount of calories to shed, it's basically like burning off a cookie! We'll take that.

We like to think that sometimes laughter can be the best medicine, especially when combined with healthy diet and exercise. For the month of April we're challenging you to laugh as much as possible!

Need some inspiration to get the laughter rolling? Try these tips: