MINNEAPOLIS - They say laughter is the best medicine, and a study out of California's, Loma Linda University, shows just that.
Researchers say that laughter may help fight age-related memory loss by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol, which can damage neurons in the brain.
Study participants who watched a funny video actually had improved memory and cortisol levels compared to those who didn't.
That doesn't surprise the 55-and-older improv class at the Brave New Workshop Student Union in Minneapolis.
Class member and family practice doctor Jim Beggs said he's always known laughter is good for us.
"There's probably improvement in blood flow with laughter and smiling and what not, too, which includes better blood flow to the brain," he said.
He believes that as he and his classmates crack each other up , they're improving each other's memory.
Deborah Dopp of Minneapolis agrees and said, "I'm quicker. I don't forget half as many things as I used to."
Linda Nation, also of Minneapolis, said laughing in improv class has brought laughter into her daily life too.
"I see the humor in things I haven't seen before," she said.
Those in the class, led by Andy Hilbrands, came up with some pretty funny interactions as they practiced. For example, the "What's in the box?" exercise between two students:
"What's in the box?"
"Oh my lost youth."
"I'm sure glad I missed that!"
The class broke out in laughter.
The study author recommends humor therapy for older adults. It looks like these folks are already getting an ample dose.