Researchers at Osaka University in Japan set out to determine whether music and laughter interventions would reduce blood pressure in one of two situations: immediately after listening to music or laughing and after three months of one-hour interventions that took place once every two weeks.
The scientists signed up 79 people between 40 and 74, who were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Thirty-two listened to music, 30 were assigned to a laughter group, and 17 neither listened to music nor participated in laughter sessions.
Those in the laughter group were entertained by "laughter yogis" and participated in laughter yoga, which combines breathing exercises with laughter stimulated through playful eye contact. They also watched traditional Japanese sit-down comedy called Rakugo.
Those in the music group sang, listened, and stretched to music. The participants were urged to listen to music at home.
Blood pressure was taken before and after each music or laughter session.
Impact of laughter and Music on Blood Pressure
After three months, researchers say blood pressure significantly decreased, by 5 mmHg among those who took part in sessions designed to make them laugh and by nearly 6 mmHg, among those who listened to music.
Blood pressure readings taken immediately after laughter sessions were immediately lowered by 7 mmHg; and after music sessions were lower by nearly 6 mmHg. People in the comparison group showed no change in blood pressure.
The researchers say they do not know whether the apparent beneficial effects of laughing or music interventions will persist on a long-term basis. Still, the findings suggest laughter and music might be good ways to help lower blood pressure.
The researchers say more study is needed further evaluate their findings.
- American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.
- News release, American Heart Association.