Middle-aged people can make themselves look years younger by pulling faces, according to new research.
There has been recent interest in the lay community in facial exercises or facial "yoga" that can rejuvenate the aging face, presumably by inducing underlying muscle growth. Then, the person needs to put fingers lightly on the top part of the cheek, release cheek muscles to lower them, and lift back up.
The exercises should be done for a minute at a time.
The Happy Cheeks Sculpting is another, involving smiling with your lips pursed together in order to lift the cheek muscles.
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Researchers believe this effect is due to the exercises increasing the size of muscles in the face.
So, can facial exercises help us to combat the visible signs of aging?
As the face ages the skin loses its elasticity and fat pads between the muscle and skin become thinner.
"Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-priced, non-toxic way for looking younger or to augment other cosmetic or anti-ageing treatments", explained lead author Dr Murad Alam, a professor of dermatology at the university.
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Physical manifestations of facial aging are now understood to include not only skin laxity and superficial photodamage but also deeper substructural volume loss of fat and muscle. The same applies even in facial yoga as dermatologists say that a facial exercise regimen can have similar benefits above the neck. "There are many muscles that collectively allow movement of the cheeks, and our study showed that building these up makes the upper and lower cheeks look fuller", told Murad Alam, Professor at the Northwestern University in Chicago, US. They assessed the photos by using a standardized facial aging scale (Merz-Carruthers Facial Aging Photoscales).
During the trial, experts were asked to guess the ages of the participants before and after they completed the exercise programme.
Dermatologists who assessed the results, found the average estimated age of the women decreased over the course of the study, starting at 50.8 years and falling to 48.1 years at the end of the study period.
"That's nearly a three-year decrease in age appearance over a 20-week period", Alam said.
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The study worked like this - 16 women aged between 40 and 65 were recruited, and underwent two face-to-face, 90-minute training sessions with a facial exercise instructor.