islamabad - A new study has suggested that combining laughter with moderate exercise may improve the mental health of older adults as well as boost their motivation and ability to engage in physical activities.

Greene and team note that one major barrier to regular exercise for older adults is lack of motivation, largely due to low enjoyment of physical activity.  For their study, the researchers set out to investigate whether combining laughter with physical activity would boost exercise enjoyment for older adults, enabling them to reap the associated health benefits.

“We want to help older adults have a positive experience with exercise, so we developed a physical activity program that specifically targets exercise enjoyment through laughter,” explains Greene.

“Laughter is an enjoyable activity and it carries with it so many health benefits, so we incorporated intentional laughter into this program to put the fun in fitness for older adults.”

The programme the researchers created is known as LaughActive. It incorporates moderate-intensity physical activity with simulated laughter techniques, whereby participants choose to laugh, without there being any humorous stimuli.  This simulated laughter initiates eye contact and playful behaviors with other participants, the team notes, which triggers genuine laughter.  The researchers explain that the body is unable to pinpoint the difference between simulated and genuine laughter, so either form offers health benefits.

Their mental health and aerobic endurance - that is, the ability to exercise for long periods without getting tired - were also assessed.

At the end of the 6-week program, 96.2 percent of participants reported laughter as an enjoyable addition to physical activity, while 88.9 percent said they felt the laughter aspect of the program helped increase exercise accessibility and made them want to continue.  Celeste Greene said that “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program.”

What is more, the LaughActive program was associated with significant improvements in mental health and aerobic endurance among participants. Based on their results, Greene and colleagues believe incorporating laughter with physical activity could be a good way to improve both the mental and physical health of older adults.  Furthermore, the team says such an approach may encourage older adults with functional or cognitive impairments to reap the health benefits of laughter; they point out that simulated laughter does not require cognitive skills to “get the joke,” because there is no joke to understand.

While their study findings show promise, the researchers point out that they are early results in a small number of participants, so further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how laughter may benefit health.

Asthma can be diagnose

from saliva test

New research shows it is possible to diagnose asthma from a patient’s saliva. The method, which uses mass spectrometry to look for metabolic markers, holds promise as a non-invasive way to test for a condition that affects millions of people, many of whom are children.

Unlike other sampling methods that are more invasive, the new test just needs a sample of saliva that can be collected from passive drool from patients of all ages.

Asthma is a chronic condition where the affected person has repeated attacks of breathlessness and wheezing.  The attacks vary in severity and frequency from person to person.

During an asthma attack, the linings of the bronchial tubes swells. This causes the airways to narrow, which in turn reduces the flow of air in and out of the lungs. While its causes are not completely understood, we do know that inhaling certain substances - such as allergens, tobacco smoke and chemical irritants - can trigger an asthma attack.

There is currently no cure for asthma, but it can be managed and kept under control to enable patients to enjoy a good quality of life. Tests for asthma are used to diagnose and monitor the condition.

Current clinical methods for diagnosing asthma, such as measurement of airflow lung capacity, are inaccurate and do not reflect underlying changes associated with the condition. Other tests using blood, sputum, or urine can be distressing, particularly for children.

Now in a study researchers from Loughborough University and Nottingham City Hospital in the United Kingdom describe how their method offers a simple, painless, non-invasive way to test for asthma.

“Ten discriminant features were identified that distinguished between moderate asthma and healthy control samples with an overall recognition ability of 80 percent during training of the model and 97 percent for model cross-validation.”

The team says not only can such a method diagnose asthma, it can also determine disease severity and progression.

One of the study leaders, Colin Creaser, a chemistry professor at Loughborough, says they decided to investigate LC-MS metabolic profiling of saliva as a potential diagnostic for asthma after using it to identify physiological stress from exercise. He says they were “very excited” to discover it would work for asthma.

There is still a way to go before doctors can start using the test, though. Further, longitudinal studies need to validate it. If they succeed, then it is likely that the method will be used for early asthma diagnosis as well as ongoing monitoring of patients.