The Health Impact of Smiling

Did You Know…that a simple smile can boost your health and lengthen your life?

Most people don’t know just how much positive impact one simple behavior can have on their overall health and well-being.  That behavior is smiling.

Ron Gutman, founder and CEO of HealthTap, has studied and written extensively about the health impact of smiling, and his efforts have turned up some fascinating findings:

 A 30-year longitudinal study at University of California, Berkeley measured the smiles of students in an old yearbook, then assessed their well-being and success throughout life.  The width of the smiles in the photographs predicted the success and length of their marriages… their well-being and general happiness (as shown on standardized tests)… and how inspiring they would be to others.  Those with the widest smiles ranked the highest in all of these categories!
 A 2010 Wayne State University research project examined the baseball card photos of Major League players in 1952.  Astonishingly, a player’s smile predicted the span of his life!  Among players who did not smile in their pictures, average life span was only 72.9 years, but those who smiled lived an average of 79.9 years!  That’s seven extra years of life, all based on a bigger smile.

Smiling Improves Your Mood Instantly 

The best news is that you don’t have to be already happy to benefit from the health boosting powers of a smile.  Charles Darwin’s Facial Feedback Response Theory says that not only do we smile when we feel good, but also that the act of smiling makes us feel better.

Recent research supports Darwin’s theory.  A 2009 study conducted at Echnische Universitat in Germany used fMRI (Functional MRI) imaging to measure brain activity before and after injecting Botox to paralyze smiling muscles.  Facial feedback (such as imitating a smile) positively affected the way the brain processes emotions.  This means that smiling triggers the circuitry of happiness in the brain.

Another study conducted in the UK produced similarly impressive findings.  Researchers used electromagnetic brain scans and heart-rate monitors to create “mood-boosting values” for various stimuli, and found…

  • One smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars
  • Smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash

Other therapeutic effects of smiling are well documented, including:

  • Reduced stress hormone levels (cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine)
  • Increased health- and mood-enhancing hormone levels (endorphins)
  • Lowered blood pressure
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh 

Start Smiling Now! 

The more you smile, the larger the effect on your mood, health, longevity, and impact on others.  Experts say you don’t have to feel like smiling, either, to reap the rewards of smiling more.  The mere act of smiling, regardless of your mood, will begin to unleash the positive cascade of neurochemical reactions in your body.  And the more you practice, the more likely you will be to find yourself smiling more naturally and effortlessly.

Smiling is one proven effective health booster that truly is free and accessible to all.  Why wait?