Music and Laughter May Help Lower Blood Pressure

March 25, 2011 -- Middle-aged men and women may be able to lower their blood pressure readings by laughing more and listening to music they enjoy, new research indicates.

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 music group sang, listened, and stretched to music. The participants were urged to listen to music at home.

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.

Blood pressure was taken before and after each music or laughter session.

Impact on Blood Pressure

After three months, researchers say blood pressure significantly decreased, by nearly 6 mmHg, among those who listened to music. It decreased by 5 mmHg among those who took part in sessions designed to make them laugh.

Blood pressure readings taken immediately after music sessions were lower by nearly 6 mmHg, and by 7 mmHg immediately after laughter sessions.

People in the comparison group showed no change in blood pressure readings.

The researchers say they do not know whether the apparent beneficial effects of music or laughing 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.

The new research is being presented in Atlanta at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.

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