The next time you are stuck in traffic or are
experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to
hold your face in a smile for a moment," says Sarah D.
Pressman, PhD, from the University of Kansas, a study
author of research on the potential health benefits of
smiling. Findings published in Psychological Science,
the journal of the Association for Psychological
Science, show that the act of smiling, independent of
feelings of happiness, can reduce stress.
Researchers recruited 169 college-aged students who
believed that the study was about multitasking. They
participated in one of three groups: a genuine-smile
group, a neutral-expression group, or a "fake"-smile
group (fake smilers held chopsticks in their mouths,
requiring facial muscles to force a smile). Subjects
were asked to make their assigned expression (or hold
the chopsticks in their mouths) as they performed a
variety of acts, including submerging a hand in cold
water. Investigators recorded heart rate data and
self-reported stress levels.
Data analysis revealed that genuine smilers had the
lowest stress levels, followed by those with fake
smiles. Those with neutral expressions displayed the
highest stress. Study authors could not explain the
underlying mechanisms for the connection between
feelings and facial expression and noted that more
research was needed.
modified tai chi training program helped adults with
COPD to improve exercise capacity, balance, physical
performance, muscular strength, quality of life and
functional performance, according to a study
published in the European Respiratory Journal
(2012; doi: 10.1183/09031936.00036912).
Investigators from the Concord Repatriation General
Hospital and the University of Sydney, both in
Sydney, conducted the study to determine the effect
of short-form Sun-style tai chi and to investigate
exercise intensity among people with COPD.