This month's Bulletin contains three studies that demonstrate our ability to improve our emotional and physical health through simple actions.
First, we'll look at Australian research that uncovered what happens to our brain when we activate the facial muscles responsible for smiling.
The second study found an answer to a long-held question: why do our bones grow curved instead of straight?
Finally, we’ll explore how resistance training alters anxiety levels. There's plenty to be anxious about right now, so this discovery is particularly useful.
More Evidence That Smiling Triggers Positive Feelings
New research from the University of South Australia has reinforced previous findings that the physical gesture of smiling can change how we feel.
Participants replicated the muscle position of a smile by holding a pen between their teeth. The experiment found that this movement alters participants' brain chemistry.
“Marmolejo-Ramos says this discovery provides important information about mental health and what stimulates the brain. This is critical during the coronavirus pandemic, which study authors add is causing disturbing spikes in anxiety and depression cases globally.
“In our research we found that when you forcefully practice smiling, it stimulates the amygdala – the emotional center of the brain – which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state,” the artificial cognition expert explains.
“For mental health, this has interesting implications. If we can trick the brain into perceiving stimuli as ‘happy,’ then we can potentially use this mechanism to help boost mental health.”1
This finding shows the direct impact of our bodies on our brains and our emotional wellbeing. It also offers a simple strategy for shifting our perception. We can increase our positivity simply by moving the muscles in our face.
If you're feeling pessimistic, try smiling for a few minutes– or do what the study participants did and hold a pen between your teeth! You might be surprised at how things change for the better afterward.
An Australian study confirmed that the physical gesture of smiling stimulates the emotional center of the brain to release neurochemicals that induce an emotionally positive state.
Bone Curvature Develops To Avoid Fracture
A study published in the journal Science Advances has provided a deeper understanding of how and why bones grow curved instead of straight.
Most bones are not perfectly straight. We know that the shape and density of bones changes over our lifetime. Researchers used advanced imaging techniques to observe changes in the shape of bones in response to physical stress over time.
“The results indicate that the bone's response to these forces varies along its length to make the bone more curved in most parts and that these shape changes are very long-lived. The researchers found that the curving process needed to be highly targeted; some short-term gains were rapidly lost through resorption, but others were preserved.
While some benefits of exercise-related load will gradually disappear, others will be preferentially retained. They also indicate that increased curvature engenders a built-in warning mechanism predicting how best to respond to physiological forces in the future. The changes in curvature do not compromise the strength, as increased quantity compensates for this beneficial change in bone shape.”2
The researchers noted that the Medical Establishment's current osteoporosis treatment focuses on bone resorption and formation. They suggest that more attention should be paid to the mechanical origin of fracture risk. This recommendation aligns with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program (ORP).
The ORP is based on the knowledge that our bones grow and change in response to physical pressure. Wolff's Law describes this biological process of cause and effect. Weight-bearing exercises create positive pressure, which the study referred to as exercise-related load. Bearing this load triggers the growth of new bone.
Thanks to this study, we can see that not only do our bones add mass in response to bearing a load, but they add and retain mass to create and preserve curvature that prioritizes long-lasting strength.
A recent study found that bones are curved because that shape allows them to resist fracture most effectively. Bones become curved in response to exercise-related load, which stimulates growth.
Resistance Training Shown To Relieve Anxiety
Resistance training, also called strength training, includes exercises that strengthen muscles using external resistance. That resistance could come from moving the weight of your body, from free weights, or from exercise machines that provide mechanical resistance.
A new study has found that resistance training workouts can relieve symptoms of anxiety.
“For the study, twice a week for eight weeks, half of the 28 participants (with a mean age of 26, who were not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder) completed resistance workouts that consisted of eight exercises, and the control group did nothing.
The specific workouts included no-equipment bodyweight exercises, such as abdominal crunches, as well as exercises that require equipment, such as barbell squats and dumbbell lunges.
Once the workout period was complete, the participants filled out a survey that measured their anxiety levels. The researchers found that an eight-week strength-training program “significantly reduced” anxiety symptoms in adults.”3
If you don't have a regular routine of weight-bearing exercise, then this news is another great reason to get started. The Save Institute created SaveTrainer to make it easy to build a workout routine and stick with it.
SaveTrainer offers a wide variety of resistance training exercises led by trained professionals. And best of all, they're available online anytime you want and are fully customizable to your needs and ability.
Researchers found that resistance training reduces anxiety. Participants who completed a routine of eight exercises twice a week for eight weeks found that they felt less anxious than the members of the control group who did not exercise. Resistance training is a form of weight-bearing exercise, which makes it essential for building new bone.
What This Means To You
Our bodies have an incredible capacity for growth, healing, and positive change.
Today's studies provide scientific proof of that. Our facial muscles can trigger the release of brain chemicals that increase our positivity. Our bones perceive the force and pressure placed on them and grow to withstand that force safely. Our exercise routines can reduce harmful and unnecessary anxiety.
Use this knowledge to improve your mood and strengthen your bones. These healthy actions reinforce each other, leading to enhanced wellness. With that wellness comes a richer and more youthful experience of life.