Valentine’s Day often brings cards, chocolates, teddy bears, roses and many other thoughtful gifts and gestures to mind; however, the most universal symbol of the holiday is the heart. We all know that heart health is important for everyone, and while exercise, diet and lifestyles contribute to general overall well-being, healthy cardiovascular systems can also be boosted with something as simple as a smile.
According to a recent Psychological Science study, smiling reduced stress levels and lowered overall heart rates in study participants while they performed difficult tasks. Researchers divided the participants into three groups based on their prompted facial expressions: genuine smiles, forced smiles and neutral expressions. Participants with genuine smiles recorded the largest decrease in heart rate; those with forced smiles also recorded positive improvements in heart rate when compared to participants with neutral expressions.
So, no matter your special plans this Valentine’s Day, be sure to give your loved ones your most important gift: a heartfelt smile!