Smile — it’s just easier

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

As many of you know by now, I am totally dedicated to the world of fitness.  Never one to shy away from a daunting challenge in the bodybuilding arena, I am nothing if not all about generating muscle and pushing our bodies to their limits…and often beyond. So, it may come as a bit of a shock when you read these next words.

I am about to introduce you to the easiest workout you have ever known. It requires very few muscular contractions, and success is guaranteed every time the exercise is performed.  Does this sound too good to be true?  Embrace it, for this is the veritable truth…go ahead and smile.

Although the exact numbers vary according to the source being read, the general consensus among experts is that it requires many less muscles to generate a smile than to create a frown.  Current numbers tell us that while 37 muscular contractions must occur in order to put a frown upon our faces, a mere 17 will turn that frown upside-down and send positive energy radiating throughout the universe! 

I am a huge advocate of the benefits of visualization.  Positive mental outlooks have been credited with everything from amazing feats of strength to medical breakthroughs. On a much simpler, day-to-day note, however, the presence of a smile can go a long way towards improving mood, lowering blood pressure, and even calming an agitated heart rate.  Couple those benefits with the knowledge that a relatively few number of muscles are involved in making that happen, and you have the ingredients for the simplest, most amazing “workout” of your day. Now, imaging the effect that your “workout” just had on the person at the receiving end of your smile…it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

The next time you are in the gym, preparing yourself for a kickboxing class, stretching for a run around the track, or staring down the barbell you are about to lift, spend a few minutes engaging in a proper warm up: perform a few jumping jacks, take a few deep breaths, and then smile. Strengthen those “happy” muscles; they will always take you far in life, and will always look good, too.