Seniors LOL for better health

Regular laughter could be the secret to a healthier life for the over 60s, a new study has found.

La Trobe University researchers have demonstrated that chuckles, chanting and clapping can led to improved mood and lower blood pressure.

Residents from three Melbourne aged care homes took part in six weekly Laughter Yoga sessions – a program that involved simulated laughter exercises, deep belly breathing, chanting and clapping while seated in a circle.

Researchers from La Trobe’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Psychology and Public Health and the Lincoln Centre for Research on Ageing measured their positive and negative mood and level of happiness, as well as their pulse and blood pressure at the beginning and end of each session.

“The study found Laughter Yoga resulted in measureable improvements in health and emotional wellbeing for older people living in residential aged care homes,” lead researcher Julie Ellis said.

“Based on our findings, there’s good reason to run regular sessions in aged care facilities.”

Fellow La Trobe researcher Ros Ben-Moshe, a trained Laughter Yoga instructor who led the sessions, said the majority of participants enjoyed taking part.

“Laughter is contagious. If one person in the group laughed, others soon followed,” Ms Ben-Moshe said.

“Even in residents with dementia, increased laughter and social engagement was observed.

“Participants told us Laughter Yoga made them feel good, relaxed and connected with others in the group.

“Only one person dropped out and most of those who completed the program said they would do it again.”

In total, 28 residents took part in the research, published in The Australasian Journal of Ageing.

The participants were aged 61 to 96 and almost half had dementia.

Media contact: Anastasia Salamastrakis 0428 195 464