How smiling could improve your athletic performance

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Being an athlete is something many people pride themselves on – but this athletic talent doesn’t just come overnight. Nope, athletes such as Usain Bolt, David Beckham, and LeBron James have spent nearly every single day of their lives perfecting their craft, training for races and matches, updating their technique, and figuring out brand new ways to put them above the competition. This normally involves tactics, statistics, and science – but it seems that something as simple as a smile could also improve your athletic performance!

Grinning mid-race can help boost your performance…

If you’re fond of watching sport on television, you’re probably used to checking out the faces of runners and athletes on a daily basis. Most of the time they are covered in sweat, concentrating incredibly hard, or grimacing out of pain – but you also might see them grinning from ear to ear in the middle of the race. Although it may seem as if they have finally lost it, there is actually a reason for this! Scientists have discovered that smiling during a race is one of the best ways to relax your muscles when they are at their highest and to boost your performance. In fact, they found that athletes who smiled during their races were 3% faster than if they hadn’t.

…. But they have to be genuine

Although scientists made a breakthrough when they noted that athletes were faster and more efficient when they smiled during their races, they also discovered that these smiles had to be genuine. To truly reduce the tension in their bodies and to positively affect their race, these runners and athletes would need to actually smile with a real smile on their face. Within their studies, they noted that those who faked a smile did not yield the same benefits as those who were genuinely happy and smiling for a reason. They believe that this is because the brain knows when you are not being genuine, and will not create a genuine response in return.

It’s all about relaxation

One of the main reasons why fake smiles do not work in the same way as real smiles within a competitive environment is because fake smiles use different muscles to real smiles. Because you are forcing a smile out of yourself, you are tensing your muscles even more, which will make them even harder to relax. When you smile for real, your muscles actually loosen, which then allows your body to relax and boost performance.

How to smile during a race

At this point, you may be wondering how you can smile genuinely while you’re in a competitive race situation – and it is difficult, but not impossible. While it’s not expected of you to plaster a smile on your face for the duration of your race, scientists do suggest that you start to smile towards the end of your race. They also suggest that you smile within 30-second intervals, as this will allow you to smile genuinely, rather than forcing it out of you.

The thought of smiling while you’re exercising may make you smile due to laughing out loud, but it seems as though this can actually have an impressive impact on your race. By smiling towards the end of your race, you can drastically improve your athletic performance and smile even more when you take your victory lap…

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