A New Study Shows Smiling Benefits Your Heart

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Mood & Memory
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

We’ve all heard the famous song lyrics, “grey skies are going to clear up, put on a happy face.” Now, new research shows those wise words of wisdom are extremely true, especially when it comes to the health of your heart.

A new study from the University of Kansas, soon to be published in Psychological Science, shows that smiling during times of stress helps you to recover from a stressful event. As one of the study’s researchers, Tara Kraft said, she wanted to see if the old expression “grin and bear it” had any scientific basis.

For this study, the researchers asked 169 volunteers from a university in the Midwest to hold one of two smiles—a traditional smile or a Duchenne (closed mouth) smile—while they performed stressful activities. During these activities, they monitored the participants’ heart rates. They also had some of the participants use chopsticks in their mouths to force a smile.

During the study, the researchers monitored the participants’ heart rates. What they found is that the participants with either the traditional or Duchenne smiles had lower recovery heart rates after stressful activities versus those who didn’t smile. Even those who had a smile forced by chopsticks had lower recovery heart rates.

So, the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, try putting on a smile. It can help to benefit your heart, and may even boost your mood!

Now it’s your turn: Have you found that smiling boosts your mood?

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