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A combination of exercise and laughter may boost the mental and physical health of seniors, recent research shows.

Investigators at Georgia State University created a program called LaughActive, which combines moderate physical activity with “simulated” laughter — laughing by choice, rather than at something funny.

Participants in the study attended two 45-minute LaughActive sessions each week for six weeks. The sessions included workout routines interspersed with eight to 10 laughing exercises.

After the six weeks, participants reported the simulated laughter helped make exercise more enjoyable and accessible to them.

Assessments of the participants also showed significant improvements in mental health and aerobic endurance. 

LaughActive shows the body can’t tell the difference between simulated and real laughter, so seniors can reap the benefits at any time, researcher Celeste Green said.

“The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” she said. 

Results are online in The Gerontologist