Can a simple trick make running easier? Yes it can and you can try it next time you run. What is this simple trick? Can you guess? Here is a riddle to get you thinking:
A mile from end to end, yet as close to as a friend.
A precious commodity, freely given.
Seen on the dead and on the living.
Found on the rich, poor, short and tall,
but shared among children most of all.
It cannot be bought, bagged, borrowed, or stolen.
What is it?
What is it that can immediately make us feel happier, more relaxed, lower stress, boost our immune system and help us live longer?
It is a "smile" of course! :)
Whenever we smile—whether it is genuine or forced—endorphins are released. Endorphins make us feel happy and lower stress levels. If we are feeling positive and happy while we are running, it feels so much easier and enjoyable. Endorphins are the same chemicals that can produce a runner's high.
When you smile, your brain interprets the facial muscle movements and releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin. Your brain cannot distinguish between a genuine or a fake smile so a fake smile works as well as the real thing (although the bigger the smile, the better the effect). This theory is known as facial feedback hypothesis. It suggests that our expressions can have a significant effect on our feelings and the muscles we use to smile ties into how the brain assesses mood.
Smiling is a natural drug that makes us feel good, relaxes our body and can lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as reduce pain.
Smiling changes our mood and reduces our stress and anxiety levels. As more endorphins are released into our smiling, happy bodies, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced. As some endorphins act as pain killers, running will feel easier and we can deal with running pain easier.
Because smiling also helps us to relax, it can boost our immune system. Studies show that smiling can cause the body to produce more white blood cells and antibodies which can help to fight illnesses.
Do you need more reasons to smile?
Other than how smiling can make running easier by helping you stay positive, relaxed, less stressed, healthier, happier and feel less pain, there are more benefits of smiling.
More benefits of smiling:
You will look younger: The muscles we use to smile naturally lift the face and studies have shown that people look younger when they smile—about 3 years younger on average!
You will live longer: People who smile more often tend to live longer. They are happier, have less stress, have a stronger immune system and healthier hearts. They live a more relaxed and enjoyable life. A study conducted by Wayne State University scientists compared the baseball cards of athletes who smiled against those who didn't smile. The "smilers" lived 7 years longer on average than the others.
You will be more successful: People who smile often appear to be more confident, reliable, relaxed and approachable and are more likely to be promoted. Smiling has a positive affect on others.
You will become more attractive: Smiling people are perceived to be more personable, easy-going and empathetic as this study shows. Another study shows that smiling actually makes you more attractive to those you smile at.
Smiling is contagious: Studies show that about 50 percent of people will smile back at you. So you can spread the endorphins around and they will come right back at you!
So are those enough reasons for you to try smiling more often? Give it a try on your next run and let us know if it makes you feel more relaxed, positive, happy and helped make running easier.
Try to smile as often as you can while running. If you find it difficult to force a smile, think about a pleasant experience that you enjoyed and smile about it. Then smile at everyone you meet and keep the smile for as long as you can. Remember that smiling is contagious. The more you smile at others, the more smiles you will receive!
We hope you try this little trick and it helps you run easier. Please share your ideas and thoughts with us. Just add your comments below. We would love to hear from you!
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