Being a couch potato isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, new research shows it can actually be rather healthy!
Most people love to laugh. It feels good, creates a positive memory, and is one of the best physical expressions of sheer enjoyment. And according to a new study out of Loma Linda University in Southern California, it can also have some important health benefits for aging adults.
The results of the study suggest that laughter can improve short-term memory and recall among older adults. To arrive at this conclusion, researchers had a test group of healthy adults watch 20 minutes of uninterrupted humorous video. A control group was told to relax for 20 minutes with no video.
Following the sessions, memory tests and saliva samples were recorded to monitor memory and hormones. Researchers found people who watched the funny videos exhibited much better memories and were able to recall more of the recent past, while having lowered amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol, present in their saliva.
Getting 20 minutes a day of quality laughter, according to researchers, is a great way to boost memory, lower stress, and improve your overall quality of life. This means that putting your feet up and watching a sitcom or two each night can actually be healthy for you! Just try not to eat a bag of chips or a tub of ice cream while you do it!
Improving memory with age, and especially short-term memories that are so important to daily life, is very important. It’s often things like misplacing keys, missing appointments, forgetting medications, or leaving the stove on that make life increasingly difficult and stressful for aging seniors as their short-term memory begins to weaken. Finding any way to improve memory and reduce stress is valuable, so you should make an effort to get a good laugh every day!
Researchers in the study mention that memory is greatly improved when a person has less stress, and humor appears to reduce cortisol, lower blood pressure, and improve overall mood. Furthermore, laughter releases endorphins, sending dopamine to the brain to provide a sense of satisfaction, pleasure, and reward.
The act of laughter brought on by a trip to the comedy club, funny conversation with friends, or even a sitcom can alter brainwave activity, which revs up memory and recall, making your brain more likely to form new memories and remember things you might have otherwise forgotten. This makes laughter a very important tool to improve brain function and overall quality of life.
Take some time every night to sit on the sofa, watch something funny, and have a good laugh. It could be doing a lot more for you than you think!
Sources for Today’s Article:
Figalora, S., “Laughing Makes Your Brain Work Better, New Study Finds,” ABC News web site, April 20, 2014; http://abcnews.go.com/Health/laughing-makes-brain-work-study-finds/story?id=23393053.
Bains, G.S., et al., “The Effect of Humor on Short-Term Memory in Older Adults: A New Component for Whole-Person Wellness,” National Institutes of Health web site, Spring 2014; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24682001, last accessed April 21, 2014.