Smile Your Way to Better Health: New Study Reveals the Heart-Healthy Benefits of Smiling

Smile Your Way to Better Health: New Study Reveals the Heart-Healthy Benefits of Smiling

Smile Your Way to Better Health: New Study Reveals the Heart-Healthy Benefits of Smiling

Feeling good often leads to a smile, but could the reverse be true? A recent study published in Psychological Science suggests that smiling could actually be good for our health, particularly our heart health.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas, the study found that smiling, especially genuine smiles, can have a positive impact on both our emotional well-being and physical health, aiding in quicker recovery from stressful events.

The study involved nearly 170 American college students who were randomly assigned to different groups. Each group was asked to mimic facial expressions while holding chopsticks between their teeth, under the guise of a multitasking experiment.

One group was instructed to produce a genuine smile, known as a "Duchenne" smile, which involves muscles around the eyes and the corners of the lips. Another group mimicked a standard, non-genuine smile, involving only the muscles around the lips. The third group maintained a neutral facial expression.

Following this, the students underwent stressful tasks while maintaining their assigned facial expressions. Their heart rates were monitored throughout the tasks, and they were asked to rate their happiness levels before and after the stressful activities.

The results were significant: Participants who smiled, especially those with genuine smiles, experienced quicker recovery of their heart rates after stressful tasks compared to those who did not smile. Additionally, those who smiled reported smaller decreases in happiness following the stress.

Lead author Tara Kraft, a psychology graduate student at the University of Kansas, noted that genuine smiles appeared to offer the most protection against the negative effects of stress. However, the study also found that consciously faking a smile, even with facial muscles moving in the same way as a genuine smile, may not yield the same benefits.

Furthermore, smiling during stressful tasks, rather than just afterward, was found to have positive effects on both physical and emotional well-being. This aspect of the study is particularly groundbreaking, as previous research primarily focused on the effects of smiling post-event.

Overall, the study provides compelling evidence that smiling, especially genuine smiles, can contribute to better heart health and emotional resilience. While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these benefits, the findings highlight the importance of a smile not only for social interactions but also for our overall health and well-being.

1 comment

  • The cardiologists never mention anything fun and easy like things to begin on the road to recovery after a heart episode. I’m going to take this in with me to my next appointment. Getting her to smile might be the first chore! lol

    - Carolyn

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