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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 8, 2005

Experimental comparison of the psychological benefits of aerobic exercise, humor, and music

  • Attila Szabo , Sarah E. Ainsworth and Philippa K. Danks
From the journal HUMOR


The effects of aerobic exercise, humor, and music on the state anxiety and affect of healthy women were investigated by using a ‘within participants’ design. Twenty women were tested four times at weekly intervals. They were exposed to four 20-minute treatments in a counterbalanced order: 1) stationary cycling at 50% of their maximal heart rate reserve, 2) watching a humorous video, 3) listening to new-age music, and 4) sitting quietly. Participants’ state anxiety and affect were measured 5-minutes before and 5-minutes after each treatment. Statistically significant decreases in state anxiety were observed in all four conditions. Negative affect also decreased in all but the sitting quietly (control) condition. The calculated effects sizes, reflecting the meaningfulness of the intervention-induced changes, were highest in response to humor session, followed by music and exercise. It is concluded, therefore, that the immediate psychological benefits of humor and music are comparable to the psychological benefits of a bout of aerobic exercise.

Published Online: 2005-09-08
Published in Print: 2005-09-19

Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG

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