Monday, August 3, 2015

Repost: Smile & Work It

Recently, I was teaching a group of students that were really struggling to get through their workout, when it dawned on me that I hadn't given a "smile" pep talk in awhile.  Wanting to revisit that info, I thought today would be a good day for a re-post ...


Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

If any of you have ever been to one of my group fitness classes, you know I am always yelling at you enthusiastically encouraging you to:



Well, think about the quote above for a minute.

You do smile when you're experiencing joy.
Or you can smile, and as a result, find joy.

I look at like this: either way, if you're smiling, you're eventually going to find some joy in there.

And what would be better than finding some joy while working out? ...even if it's just realizing that forcing a smile like this actually makes you look kinda goofy, and you start to laugh at yourself:

Awhile back I read a few articles that talked about smiling helping with two major areas of working out.  Supposedly, smiling while working out could make you up to 20% more productive during your workout, and could also help you recover more quickly the next day.

Of course, now I cannot find either of those articles to link back to, and you probably think I'm a liar.

Oh well.  What I could find was the following study, which is still quite interesting.

Smiling and stress recovery:

Kraft and Pressman (2012)
(read source article here, or just read the short summary below that I condensed for you)

Kraft and Pressman studied 169 college students, telling them that their investigation concerned multi-tasking. The group was split into three groups:

(A) The neutral expression control group (asked to hold the ends of chopsticks gently in their mouth while relaxing their face).
(B) The standard smiling group (asked to hold the ends of chopsticks gently in their mouth while raising the corners of the mouth, thereby producing a facial smile).
(C) The Duchenne smiling group (asked to hold chopsticks cross-wise in their mouths, thereby producing the full-faced smile with squinted eye known as a Duchenne smile.)

Furthermore, half of the participants in each of the two smiling groups were explicitly told to smile.  These participants were aware that they should be smiling, whereas other participants were simply told how to hold their faces.  So, in all, the experiment had five conditions:

(1) neutral expression
(2) standard smiling without awareness
(3) standard smiling with awareness
(4) Duchenne smiling without awareness
(5) Duchenne smiling with awareness

Participants were then hooked up to a heart rate monitor and were subjected to "stressful" tasks (mostly trying to do something quickly, or multi tasking on various things while trying to be accurate on all parts, etc).  After the stressor was removed, heart rate recovery times were recorded.

The results?  Regardless of their awareness, smiling participants recovered more quickly from stress than those with neutral expressions, and those displaying Duchenne smiles recovered somewhat more quickly than those displaying a standard smile.

So, while the above doesn't exactly prove that you will be super productive during your workout, and that you will recover like a rock star the next day, it does show an interesting result in regards to smiling while under stress.

And, to take it one step further, I'll push my theory - if you're smiling, chances are, you're eventually going to start having fun. 

Interestingly enough, to go along with my theory, just this week I stumbled across this news snippet:

So - regardless of being 20% more productive during or not - smiling sure does make things more enjoyable.  And if you're having fun, that's the most important part!

Trust me, as a girl who works out dressed as a unicorn, I know what I'm talking about.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I also read somewhere that it takes more muscle to smile than it does to frown. So that's another great way to amp up the workout, so to speak. =D