Laughter Yoga + Exercise Improves Mental Health, Aerobic Endurance

Incorporating laughter yoga into a physical activity program could improve older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance and confidence in their ability to exercise.

In this Georgia State University study, older adults residing in four assisted-living facilities participated in a moderate-intensity group exercise program called LaughActive that incorporates playful simulated laughter into a strength, balance and flexibility workout. In simulated laughter exercises, like laughter yoga, participants initially choose to laugh and go through the motions of laughing. The exercises facilitate eye contact and playful behaviors with other participants, which generally transition the laughter from simulated to genuine. It is kind of like Laughter Yoga.

For six weeks, study participants attended two 45-minute physical activity sessions per week that included eight to 10 laughter exercises lasting 30 to 60 seconds each.

When surveyed about their satisfaction with the program, 96.2 percent found laughter to be an enjoyable addition to a traditional exercise program, 88.9 percent said laughter helped make exercise more accessible and 88.9 percent reported the program enhanced their motivation to participate in other exercise classes or activities.

Despite the health benefits of physical activity and the risks of physical inactivity, many adults (1 in 4) don’t engage in sufficient physical activity to achieve health benefits.

The pleasant associations with laughter may add enjoyment to an exercise program and keep older adults motivated to work out.