AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dad jokes could provide cardiovascular benefits that may be small but real, according to the American Heart Association.

Do not confuse “dad joke” with “bad joke.” These jokes rely on common things — like silly puns — that transcend age, politics and backgrounds. You don’t have to be a dad to tell one. The term “dad joke” is relatively new; however, the concept is not.

“They used to be simply called ‘jokes,'” said Anne Libera, director of comedy studies at The Second City in Chicago. “Dad jokes may lack originality,” Libera said, “but they excel at universality.”

Laughter has been associated with boosting short-term memory, creativity and immunity, said Dr. Gurinder Bains, associate professor of allied health studies at Loma Linda University in California.

Bains said, “For example, laughter reduces the stress hormone cortisol,” which has been associated with a risk of cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure. It also might help with sleep by promoting the release of melatonin.

Having a sense of humor has been linked to benefits said Dr. Beth Frates, director of lifestyle medicine and wellness in the department of surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Connecting over a laugh is something special and unique that tends to last.”

Because social connections have repeatedly been shown to be critical to health, the American Heart Association arrived at what may be the humble dad joke’s most powerful punch – your health.

Even the predictability of a dad joke is a plus. “We’ve been told something like it before,” Libera said. “So it’s almost like being told a favorite story.”

Frates’ advice for anybody gathering for Father’s Day — which is today — is don’t dread the dad joke. “When we’re together–when you share the humor, you’re sharing the health.”