Laughter yoga class helps seniors stay sharp and healthy

DUARTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Life is better when you're laughing, but can it help you live longer too? Seniors have been attending a class in Duarte where laughter is used to help them stay sharper and healthier.

"It's truly an exercise program that's fun for people," instructor LuRetta Haire said.

She leads a laughter yoga class at the Royal Oaks Manor senior living community. In the class, residents can't help but laugh.

"I think it's fun," said Dougie Dolf, a Royal Oaks Manor resident. "I mean LuRetta is a hoot!"

"I just think it's so good for a person to laugh. It makes you feel good and it does away with all your problems," said Don Milefchik, another resident of Royal Oaks Manor.

"What we've seen is more happiness around the community. It seems like people are spontaneously laughing a little bit," said Rob Salierno, the executive director of Royal Oaks Manor.

Studies have shown that babies laugh 400 times a day, but as humans get older, people tend to laugh less, about 17 times a day. Haire wanted to increase that number, but she said you don't need to be a comedian to a laugh.

"No," she said. "You're going to laugh for no reason at all."

Research revealed laughter helps reduce stress, blood pressure and improve immunity.

"Endorphins," Haire explained. "It releases them. The yoga part is the breathing."

Laughter is like an aerobic exercise. It involves forceful exhalation from your lungs. Consistent laughing for 30 minutes will fell like a workout.

Haire hopes laughter therapy will become so contagious her students will start their own smaller clubs. She said laughter is the best medicine and it's free.
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