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Using Leisure and Laughs as Good Medicine for Diabetes

You can use the health benefits of leisure and laughter to diabetes as your justification for a vacation or even a relaxing night with a funny movie. If that doesn't seem like an excuse anyone would really buy, maybe some evidence can help your case.

The negative effect of stress on health, especially the kind of chronic stress that often goes hand in hand with diabetes, is well established. Hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, that are meant to activate your body for maximum strength and quickness in times of danger, can keep you revved up unnaturally in response to lower levels of stress. That can mean that the higher blood pressure and elevated blood glucose levels meant to fuel your fight or flight in times of danger backfire. High blood pressure and elevated glucose are two specific things you want to avoid with diabetes.

So, how can you shed some stress and improve your health? You can make a strong case for taking some leisure time, and it doesn't have to be a vacation — just get back to that hobby you used to enjoy. Leisure time slows your heart rate, reduces your blood pressure, and helps you make better decisions about your health. Better decisions are a key element of effective diabetes management.

Want to lower your blood glucose? Watch a funny movie. It turns out that laughter has distinct health benefits, including reducing blood glucose. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who watched a funny movie had significantly reduced blood glucose levels, as well as improvements in renin-angiotensin system markers (associated with diabetes complications). The same group had been evaluated days previously after eating exactly the same meal, but watching a lecture instead of the funny movie.

Diabetes is stressful, and so are other things in your life. But, making a commitment to reduce stress by getting some leisure is genuinely making a commitment to improve your health and improve your decisions about diabetes management. That's a pretty good deal.

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