Celebrating World Laughter Day

2 May 2017

We all enjoy having a laugh, but are there also health benefits to a good chuckle?

Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low from the Faculty of Health Sciences says the psychological benefits of using humour as a coping mechanism are well established. "Laughing in groups seems to facilitate social bonding. There is also some evidence linking laughter to improved immune defences, higher pain thresholds and reduced blood pressure - after laughter, not during it!"

Low and her team have conducted a humour therapy trial called the "SMILE study" which involved almost 400 aged care residents, the majority of whom had dementia. This was the largest trial of humour therapy in the world.

"Nursing homes are traditionally serious places, and I loved their idea of introducing performers to provoke laughter and life," said Associate Professor Low.

"Humour therapy isn't just about making older people laugh; it's about connecting with them authentically and emotionally through conversation, music, play, poetry or even art. We showed that one humour therapy visit a week lowered the level of agitated behaviour over 12 weeks, and this reduction was sustained after another 13 weeks."

Happy World Laughter Day.