• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Study links funny movies with healthy hearts

August 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
What do the heart-wrenching war epic "Saving Private Ryan" and the hilarious "There's Something About Mary" have in common?

Almost nothing, except they were both in a University of Maryland study about how movies like these affect your heart.

After participants viewed scenes from "Saving Private Ryan," their arteries constricted, but they opened up when they got a good belly laugh.

Glendale Memorial Cardiologist Dr. Lawrence O'Connor also suspects a negative neurohormonal release can raise a person's heart rate, blood pressure and constrict arteries.

"People who are under a great deal of stress release adrenaline, and this causes a number of not-so-good effects if it's there all the time," O'Connor said.

Meanwhile, people who laugh release beta endorphin. This chemical floats around in the blood stream and has a positive effect on the circulation.

"If we're getting a good belly laugh every day and we're lowering our blood pressure and our heart rate by that, then you don't have these forces that stir up trouble by snowplowing up the plaque," O'Connor said.

The study's authors say the positive heart effects that you get with a good belly laugh are similar to what you would get with aerobic exercise.

Researchers say along with a good diet and exercise, people should try to get a good laugh every day.

O'Connor says thought-provoking movies are good for the soul, but it appears slapstick comedies are good for the heart.

Load Comments