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A smile will improve your run, research finds

Smiling could boost athletic performance, a new study claims. Researchers found grinning can reduce an athlete's perceived effort, or how hard they feel they are working, making the sport easier for them. In fact, researchers say many top athletes, including Olympic marathon gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge, smile to enhance their performance.

The findings, published in the Psychology of Sports and Exercise, suggest smiling helps reduce muscle tension and distract runners from bodily sensations, thus making running easier. The runners completed the blocks while smiling, frowning, while consciously relaxing their hands and upper-body, or with a normal attention focus. After each run, they reported on how they felt while running. Researchers found participants used 2.8 percent less energy when smiling compared to frowning. They also found runners conserved 2.2 percent more energy in comparison to normal attention focus.

'The main reason for the 2.8 percent improvement in running economy, we believe, was that smiling helped participants to relax and reduce muscle tension without deliberately, or consciously trying to relax,' Brick said. 'We know that runners are more efficient when they are relaxed, so this seems the most likely reason.'

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