Monday, 14 February 2011

Don't forget about facial fitness as well.....

How many hours a week do you spend exercising your body? Two, five, ten, fifteen? No doubt if you are reading this you are interested in fitness or sport and spend some hours every week exercising; be it cardio training, weights, flexibility or whatever. You are probably careful about what you eat too. It's important to you; you want to be fit, toned and trim; you want to stay healthy into mid life and old age. You want to stay looking youthful for as long as possible. Am I right?

Well, what about your face then? Do you exercise that too?

Have you ever had that experience of walking behind someone (usually a woman) who looks slim and attractive, well toned and stylishly dressed, then she turns around and you recoil a bit in horror because her face is much older than you expected? Sounds horrible I know but would you like to be that woman? I wouldn't.

Don't worry, this isn't about to turn into an advert for cosmetic surgery or botox - I wouldn't advocate either. I think cosmetic surgery should be reserved for people who have genuine need i.e. facial deformity or disfigurement following an accident or burn. What I am actually advocating is a more natural remedy for staying youthful - a facial exercise program....

Here are some facts: There are around 60 muscles in the human face. The facial muscles differ from the muscles in our bodies in that they are directly attached to each other and to the skin. Many of these muscles are not frequently used and, as with somatic muscles, the 'use it or lose it' principle applies and the facial muscles can sag and atrophy as we age.

As the muscles in our faces sag they drag down the skin with them giving the classic ageing signs of eye bags, loose skin on the upper eye lids, jowls, turkey necks.....   As the muscles continue to atrophy and thin our eyes and cheeks get that sunken appearance and our skin no longer 'fits' onto the shrunken frame causing folds and wrinkles to appear. Of course this will all be compounded if we ill treat our skin by exposing it to ultra-violet light and/or smoking causing it to lose it's elasticity as the collagen fibres break down. If you are a runner the news just gets worse.....jogger's faces tend to age more quickly than others because of the constant jarring of the face with each step, pulling the muscles down. People doing outdoors sports also tend to get more exposure to sunlight.

If we neglected our bodies as much as we neglect our faces we would hardly be able to walk! But we don't neglect our bodies in this way so why do it to our faces - the one part of us we really would like to keep looking good?

Have I convinced you that you need to exercise your facial muscles as well as your body?

I started a facial exercise program about 2 years ago and think that my face has definitely benefited from it. This is no miracle cure or quick fix, like any exercise program it takes a while to see results and you have to keep it up - for ever! The effects on my face are subtle but noticeable. The eye bags I was starting to develop have gone. I don't really have any lines across my forehead, the skin on my face is smooth and taut and my jawline is clearly defined. Don't get me wrong - I don't exactly look 21 any more but most people don't think I look my 48 years either. I don't feel I've rewound the clock a great deal but hopefully I'm stopping it from ticking forward too quickly!

The program I'm following is Eva Fraser's - check out her website, but there are other programs available as well.

Here's some pictures of Eva. She was born in 1928 and was 79 when these pictures were taken! She has had no cosmetic surgery.

The exercises are structured and address individual muscle groups in the face. They are not merely about pulling faces in the mirror. They start off without the use of resistance whilst you learn to find and isolate specific muscles. Once you can find the muscles and control them you move onto the advanced phase which involves exercising the muscles against resistance - just like you would your body. Once you get the hang of it the program takes about 10-15 minutes a day and eventually tails off to 10 minutes 3 times a week as a maintenance program.

Why not add facial exercises to your fitness routine and have the complete health and fitness look?


  1. Interesting article Sue. My focus, a guy of course, is to be conscious of my facial muscles as well as the shoulders.

    Stress usually manifests itself there so being conscious of it helps to sense it then "relax" them to remove stress.

    If you do that usually your mind is so focused that it is no longer focused on the stress.

    I use this sometimes as a part of my prep when I go into kumite, a demo, or some talk, etc. I also do it before meetings at work and so for me anyway.

  2. Hi Charles, you can often relax a facial muscle by giving it a good pinch or massaging it by gently stroking upwards. Tapping on stressed muscles with your index finger repeatedly can also help relax them.


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