WASHINGTON, D.C. — Want to remain young at heart as you get on in years? According to the experts, there’s a “silly” way that could help you grow old gracefully, with a smile on your face.
Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], says that “a good laugh, a playful prank and other such ‘silly’ behavior once in a while doesn’t just lift your spirits and relieve stress; it can also have a positive physical impact on your health.”
Weber admits that until she started researching the notion that laughter is the best medicine as we age, she didn’t know the depth and breadth of the scholarly studies related to the topic. “I didn’t know, for example, that there are serious, scientific journals devoted to the subject of humor out there that publish the results of well-documented methodical studies of the benefits of silliness. No kidding!”
For example, the European Journal of Humor reports that one such study found that playful behavior can “trigger positive emotions” and, in turn, those positive emotions “can be helpful in facilitating physical resources such as coordination, strength, or cardiovascular health.”
Perhaps the most definitive study of laughter to date is the research conducted by Dr. Robert R. Provine, a behavioral neurobiologist at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. His book, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, is based on a massive, often amusing ten year examination of what makes people laugh. But, Provine believes that more research needs to be done to determine precisely the benefits of laughter, not because he doesn’t believe that a little fun in your day is not beneficial. As he put it, “When we laugh, we’re in a happy place [and] that’s always a good thing.”
Haley Burress is a recreation therapist and she offers these helpful hints on how seniors can brighten their days and their lives:
· Start morning exercise with a joke
· Gain attention by blowing into a kazoo or honking a bicycle horn before an activity
· Wear a T-shirt or sweater with a witty expression on it
· Listen to comedy radio shows
· Have a comedy movie night monthly
So, try and have yourself a giggle at least once a day, suggests Weber.
“Remember that master jokester, Bob Hope, lived to 100 years of age, as did mister one-liner himself, George Burns.
As Hope put it: "I'll tell 'ya how to stay young: Hang around with older people."
Burns had a one-liner that went like this: "I don’t worry about getting old. I’m old already. Only young people worry about getting old."