Perspective: Give yourself a break and start chuckling - it's good for your health

PLEASE try not to laugh – this is a very serious subject, writes John Adams. I do sympathise with those who suffer from osteoporosis. It can be a crippling condition which affects around three million people in the UK. And there are over 230,000 fractures a year as a result

PLEASE try not to laugh - this is a very serious subject, writes John Adams.

I do sympathise with those who suffer from osteoporosis. It can be a crippling condition which affects around three million people in the UK.

And there are over 230,000 fractures a year as a result of having brittle bones and falling.

Now some bright sparks from the Netherlands have come up with a possible solution. They advocate teaching judo to people with osteoporosis, arguing that the knowledge would help them have a better landing in the event of a tumble by turning the fall into a rolling movement, bending and twisting the torso and neck.


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Such training may prevent hip fractures among people with osteoporosis, say the researchers.

To me, their argument began to unravel when I read a doctor from an Amsterdam university being quoted as saying: "For obvious safety reasons, this could not be directly assessed using persons with osteoporosis."

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So, the researchers measuring the hip impact forces during martial arts fall exercises used a group of healthy young adults. You know, the ones with lithe, supple bodies who can turn like a cat in mid fall to land on their feet.

They did not break their hips, which led the researchers to believe that fall training would be safe for people with osteoporosis if they wear hip protectors during the teaching, aim to land on a thick mattress and avoid forward falling from a standing position.

And after the training, presumably you can let them loose with no hip protectors to shuffle around on hard wooden or concrete floors in the same inflexibly stiff bodies they had to endure before embarking on this voyage of desperate hope of a better, fracture-free future.

It all sounds double Dutch to me.

I would, however, encourage readers to get giggling after learning this week about another piece of research.

As a confirmed couch potato, it pleased me to read - from the comfort of my recliner chair with my feet up - that laughter can do as much good for your body as a jog around the park.

A doctor from a Californian university who led the study said that the high people get from a giggling fit was similar to the endorphin rush from exercise.

Laughter was indeed a good medicine, he added, and the more side-splitting the better, apparently. Earnest scientists have concluded that "mirthful laughter" is like "internal jogging" because it can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and boost the immune system, much like moderate exercise.

What has been dubbed "laughexercise" could be a way of reducing heart disease and diabetes. This is seen as especially important to the elderly who may find it hard to perform more physical activities - like walking around and putting themselves in danger of a fall fracture.

By the way, even if you do not have the strength to muster up a chuckle, an earlier study by the good doctor showed that the mere anticipation of a good laugh can benefit health.

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