Have a Laugh for Better Health
A recent study shows that laughter can improve mental health, motivation, and ability to participate in regular physical activity in older adults. Exercise has a number of health benefits for seniors, including better heart and bone health, reduced diabetes risk, improved strength and balance, and others. However, according to the CDC, about 31 million Americans over the age of 50—more than one in four—do not get the recommended amount of physical activity.
For the study, participants engaged in a new program called LaughActive, which combines moderate physical activity with laughter, at least twice a week for 6 weeks. Participants purposefully laugh, without the presence of funny stimuli. This simulated laughter and interaction leads to playful behavior that then triggers genuine laughter. Each workout also includes strength, balance, and flexibility exercises.
At the end of the 6-week study period, more than 96 percent of participants identified laughter as an enjoyable addition to exercise, and almost 89 percent said the laughter aspect made them want to continue the program. The program also was associated with improved mental health and aerobic endurance.
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