Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS
Laughter may be the best medicine, but could it also be an effective exercise tool? According to a recent study, there is evidence that incorporating laughter into a physical activity program may promote better mental health, confidence, and even aerobic endurance.
In the study, researchers proposed a group exercise program to seniors called LaughActive, which incorporated playful simulated laughter into a moderate-intensity strength, balance, and flexibility workout. For six weeks, participants attended two 45-minute exercise sessions that included various short laughter activities. The laughter activities were incorporated into the program after a series of strength, balance, and flexibility exercises due to the theory that laughter may relax muscles and assist intra-workout recovery. Following the study, participants not only showed improved health markers, but also over 90% said that the laughter, even when simulated, made exercise more enjoyable, increased their confidence to complete the movements, enhanced their motivation to continue exercising (resulting in better performance), and overall helped them to have a more positive experience. One of the more interesting findings was that the body seemed to be unable to distinguish between genuine laughter and simulated laughter techniques; both elicited benefits in exercise recovery and satisfaction.
While we are not suggesting that you break down into fake laughter in between sets to improve recovery or replace your workout mix with stand-up comedy, there is definitely benefit to incorporating fun into exercise. Ask a friend to join you for your next workout or work in your exercise session while taking your kids to the park. The ensuing fun and laughter may help keep you motivated and make exercise a more positive experience.
doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.