Although physical activity has many health benefits, many older people cannot achieve sufficient levels of activity due to their mobility limitations. In addition, lack of enjoyment may be a barrier to physical activity participation.
In a recent study, scientists find that combining simulated laughter and physical activity may be a solution to help older adults maintain independence in daily life. The finding is published in The Gerontologist.
Researchers from Georgia State University, University of Arkansas, and the LaughActive company worked together to conduct the study.
They examined whether combining laughter exercises with moderate-intensity strength, balance, and flexibility physical activity program (LaughActive) could increase health and self-efficacy in older people.
A total of 27 participants took part in the study. The whole program lasted 12 weeks, and each week participants attended two 45-min physical activity sessions that included 8-10 laughter exercises.
A laughter exercise usually was 30-60 seconds long and incorporated into workout after every 2-4 strength, balance and flexibility exercises.
Researchers measured participants’ body and mental health before the program and 6 weeks after the program.
The result showed that people received the laughter-based exercise training improved their mental health, aerobic endurance (2-min step tests), and self-efficacy for exercise.
In addition, 96% of participants found laughter make the physical activity more enjoyable, 89% reported that laughter helped the exercises more accessible, and 89% said the program enhanced their motivation to participate in other exercises.
Researchers suggest that physical activity combined with simulated laughter (laughter-based exercise) can elicit positive emotions. The positive emotions have a potential to improve health, physical performance, and self-efficacy for physical activity.
Moreover, laughter can help build motivation and interest in physical activity. When older people feel interested in physical activity, they will do more exercises, which can improve their health and reduce risk of various diseases.
Citation: Greene CM, et al. (2016). Evaluation of a Laughter-based Exercise Program on Health and Self-efficacy for Exercise. The Gerontologist, 2016; gnw105. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw105.
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