WE’VE ALL HEARD the old cliché that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, so you should smile to conserve energy! That’s actually false. It takes a minimum of ten muscles to smile but only a minimum of six to frown, so the expression should really be “smile to burn calories!” But smiling will do much more for your health than just giving your face a workout.
Here are four ways smiling benefits our health.
Smiling releases endorphins, which are our bodies’ feel-good hormones. They serve as natural painkillers with no side-effects. What’s particularly interesting about this is that it’s the smile itself that releases the endorphins, not the attitude behind it.
Our brains are so hard-wired to associate smiling with joy that even a fake smile will get you the chemical benefits. So whenever you get injured, it really is a good idea to grin and bear it!
Another thing the endorphins released by smiling do for you is help relieve stress. A study in 2012 tested how quickly subjects’ heart rates could go back to normal after performing a stressful task. One group was instructed to hold a pencil between their teeth (which forces a smile) and the other was instructed to hold the pencil between their lips (which forces a neutral expression). The subjects with the biggest smiles recovered the fastest.
This goes back to the way our brains react to smiles. We don’t just smile when we’re happy; smiling can actually make us happy, which means you really can “fake it till you make it” when it comes to smiling!
Relieving tension and stress by smiling can have a profound cumulative impact on your health. It can make you more resilient against illness and it can even reduce your chances of getting cancer by lowering the number of stress-induced mutations your cells go through.
Smiling doesn’t just make you look younger and more attractive; it can also add years to your lifespan. Taking advantage of every opportunity to smile (and then some) could make you live up to seven years longer!
As adults, we average a paltry 20 smiles per day, while children will light up with a smile 400 times on that same day! Imagine the health benefits we could rack up if we could start smiling like we did when we were kids? Some people keep their smiles to themselves because they aren’t happy with the way their teeth look, but we can help you get and keep a smile you’ll be proud to show off.