(NaturalPath) According to a study out of Georgia State University and published in the journal the Gerontologist, incorporating laughter into a physical activity program that is focused on strength, balance and flexibility could improve older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance and confidence in their ability to exercise.
This study took older adults from a handful of assisted-living facilities and added playful simulated laughter into a moderate-intensity group exercise program as a part of a strength, balance and flexibility workout. The researchers note that the body cannot distinguish between simulated and genuine laughter and that both forms of laughter elicit health benefits.
Because laughter is scientifically demonstrated to strengthen and relax muscles, the laughter exercises often involved physicality in the muscles being worked in strength, balance and flexibility exercises to prepare the body for exercise and help it recover.
The study found significant improvements among participants in mental health, aerobic endurance and outcome expectations for exercise (for example, perceived benefit of exercise participation). The benefit of the addition of laughter to the exercise regimen was the accessibility and enjoyability of exercise making it a more frequent addition to their life and therefore making them healthier.
“The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” said the lead author on the study. “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. 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.”
So the addition of laughter could help older adults be more physically active.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.