Monday, March 28, 2011

Diet, Exercise...Music and Laughter? What's the Link?

If you think of your health as a pyramid, you can be sure that a solid base depends on a healthy diet and remaining physically active. There are, of course, other pieces to this puzzle which contribute to good health and disease prevention, such as getting enough sleep, relaxing and remaining optimistic. Building on the last point, researchers now believe that laughter and music can help reduce your blood pressure, even as much as some medications!

The Japanese study sounds like one of the funnest I've ever heard of! Participants were assigned to laughter or music interventions, or neither. Participants in the music group sang, listened, and stretched to music and were also encouraged to listen to music at home.

"Laughter yogis” entertained those in the laughter group, who participated in laughter yoga, combining breathing exercises with laughter and playful eye contact. They also watched traditional Japanese comedy called "Rakugo".

After 3 months of such interventions, the blood pressure of the participants in both intervention groups decreased significantly, about as much as some medications or lifestyle interventions can achieve. Those in the music group saw a decrease in their blood pressure of nearly 6 mmHg while the laughter group experienced decreases of 5 mmHg. The group that received no intervention did not experience a change in blood pressure.

Once again, this just goes to show that if you want to live a long, healthy life, you really do have to make time to live, love and laugh!