A prescription for laughter
According to Madan Kataria, M.D., laugher may be good for you when it comes to blood pressure. During an American Society of Hypertension meeting Dr. Kataria relayed that he conducted a observational study involving 200 healthy call-center employees in India. The employees were subjected to 20-minute laughter sessions, which were associated with significant reductions in blood pressure. Laughter that qualified as beneficial was not just simple giggling but lengthy belly laughs. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses Dr. Kataria’s study:
In the study, half the volunteers participated in seven 20-minute “laugh groups” over three weeks, and the other half were randomized to a wait list and served as controls.
Mean baseline systolic pressure was 128 mm Hg in the laugh-yoga group versus 126 mm Hg in the controls. Baseline diastolic pressures were 82 mm Hg in both groups. Stress was assessed at baseline and after the intervention by cortisol level, as well as by the Positive and Negative Stress Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale.
After the treatment, mean systolic pressure decreased by about 7 mm Hg in the laugh group versus no change in the control group (P<0.01) and diastolic pressure decreased by 3 mm Hg versus no change in the control group (P<0.05), Dr. Kataria said.
Laughter, he said, was an antidote to stress and “these IT workers, although healthy, have very stressful jobs.” He noted that laughter was also associated with a significant reduction in cortisol levels (P<0.001).
At the same time, participants in the laugh group had an 18% improvement in positive emotions and a 28% reduction in negative emotions (P<0.001 for both) and a significant reduction in perceived stress scale score (P<0.01).