Laughing, Exercise Could Improve Mental Health in Seniors

Elderly women standing and sitting for exerciseResearchers at Georgia State University have revealed a combination of laughter and moderate exercise can help seniors improve mental health while also boosting their physical stamina and motivation. They call this program LaughActive.

Regular exercise is beneficial for people of all ages, but the study’s authors point out that a common hurdle for seniors when it comes to exercise is maintaining motivation. The report sought to determine if infusing laughter with physical exercise could help seniors exercise for longer periods of time, as well as feel more motivated to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises adults age 65 and older to get at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise. It is also recommended for seniors to do exercises or activities that focus on strengthening muscles at least two days per week.

Adding Laughter Breaks to Exercise Sessions

The researchers began by recruiting 27 assisted living facility residents who would each attend two weekly 45-minute sessions for six weeks. The strength and flexibility training was mixed in with several laughing breaks lasting less than a minute.

The laughter incorporated into the workouts was simulated, without actual stimuli prompting a true humorous response. Participants were instead simply asked to laugh during the designated breaks. According to the authors, just laughing aloud prompted greater eye contact among the exercise group, which in turn resulted in a more playful attitude and genuine laughter.

Just over 96% of participants found the inclusion of laughter to be a positive addition, with 89% saying it aided with exercise stamina and motivation.

Laughter May Be ‘Best Medicine’ for Seniors

In addition to the physical benefits, the researchers say LaughActive was also associated with significant improvements in seniors’ mental health. Previous research indicates laughing can help improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and soothe tension.

The report acknowledges the small sample size of the study and indicates further research is needed to determine how and why laughter can be beneficial.

References:

  1. American Heart Association. (n.d.). Humor helps your heart? How? Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/Humor-helps-your-heart-How_UCM_447039_Article.jsp#.V-vhf5MrJds
  2. Mora-Ripoll, R. (2010, December). The therapeutic value of laughter in medicine. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/openview/720c8476166aed6486eca8f81cfe8c44/1?pq-origsite=gscholar
  3. Whiteman, H. (2016, September 19). Laughter may boost physical activity, mental health for seniors. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312971.php

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  • janice

    janice

    October 3rd, 2016 at 1:12 PM

    Laughter and exercise are good for everyone but I too think that older people can benefit from it in ways that the rest of us may not even understand. I have to think that there is something that is very lonely about aging and growing old and anything that we can do to ward off that loneliness and inject more activity and laughs into our day is only going to be an improvement for the better.

  • Jeremy

    Jeremy

    October 7th, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    I haven’t seen much of this in any elder care facility I have ever visited. :(

  • ranssaptik

    ranssaptik

    January 20th, 2017 at 2:31 AM

    I think it’s a great piece of information and I am also agree with you that health is very important thing for all of us. Generally people do not focus on their health and they do not take their health as a priority because of stressful life. The points you have made in this article about mental health are very logical. Today’s generation has very busy life and I think they should follow some points of public health news which you have mentioned in your article. This would be helpful for them to maintain their health.

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