In an observational study of 200 healthy normotensive IT call- center workers in Mumbai, India, 20-minute laugh-yoga sessions were associated with significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, Madan Kataria, M.D., reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting.
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).
This study was presented by Dr Kataria at the American Society of Hypertension 2008 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LO.