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Boost Exercise Benefits with Laughter

In the movie Mary Poppins when Mary (Julie Andrews) and Bert (Dick Van Dyke) take the Banks children (Mathew Garber and Karen Dotrice) to visit Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn), Albert starts to laugh and suddenly with every chortle he floats higher and higher off the ground. Soon the visitors start laughing and they levitate too. Only sad thoughts bring them back to Earth.

Sometimes the thought of exercising can make you feel rooted to the ground. But a study shows that laughter just might give you the motivational lift you need. Researchers found that older adults who were led through an exercise program that incorporated simulated laughter (they went through the motions of laughter), which often triggered a genuine belly laugh, saw significant improvement in mental health, aerobic endurance and more interest in exercising. Study participants did a 45-minute course of moderate activity peppered with bouts of simulated laughter for six weeks. Almost 89 percent said laughter made exercise more accessible; and about 88 percent said they were motivated to participate in other exercise classes.

So the next time you exercise, sprinkle some humor into your workout, like Dr. Mike does. Try watching last night’s episodes of The Late Show (Stephen Colbert) and Conan O’Brian, while you exercise. You’ll discover that your workouts are more fun, and you’ll get other health benefits too. A good laugh session releases mood-boosting endorphins, lowers stress, improves your immune responses, reduces pain, improves heart health and makes your RealAge younger.