A smile is a natural reflex that enables your brain to receive mood-improving chemicals which improve even the grumpiest of moods. In many cases, smiling happens unconsciously. But, as it turns out, whether fake or not, a grin on your face may be your secret tool for improving athletic performance.

Grinning in the middle of a race is reported to calm muscles and enhance physical performance. In recent times, a group of researchers from Swansea University and Ulster University decided to put this theory into practice and monitor the results.

The Test

The research was conducted on 24 runners who were asked to complete four runs of approximately 6 minutes each. They were also instructed to use various strategies during these runs. Some of the plans for running included frowning, smiling, consciously calming their hands, or using their regular expression. Cardiorespiratory reactions were documented, along with heart rate, oxygen consumption, and a perceived effort, among other health pointers. Even though smiling did not alter their heart rate, it did make a difference when it came to the perceived running exertion and how much oxygen was used. Generally, they observed that running was more comfortable with a grin and harder with a frown. Dr. Noel Brick, being among the top researchers, said that even though it may appear distinct, most of top athletes strategically use smiling during their performance to cope and relax.

Psychological Effect

Smiling triggers the excretion of hormones that not only work as natural pain relievers but also create a feeling of wellbeing. It has also been noted that any tactic that modifies how you perceive training has positive effects. Psychological skills training such as self-talk and target setting enhance endurance performance. On the other hand, it’s also noted that remaining optimistic can lead to building positive habits and avoiding bad habits as well.

Practical Implications

Examples of athletes who implement this relaxation method while they perform include Eliud Kipchoge and the legendary Haile Gebrselassie, to name a few.

Similar to supplementing your workout with performance enhancers from Valkyrie Online, smiling periodically during training is recommended for about 30 seconds, as it is effective in relaxing and reducing the sensation of effort during your performance.

The goal of concentrating on positive thoughts during a performance is to condition and motivate the mind and body; this gives you an advantage over those competitors who keep a serious facial expression throughout the competition or performance.


From the researchers findings and practical examples of athletes, it is safe to acknowledge that smiling could enhance your athletic performance. Even when it is faked, that grin on your face brings about a relaxed feeling that facilitates pleasure and endurance.

As Dr. Brick concluded, “Our recommendation is to pay some attention to your facial expression and to smile as much as you can during your run or any exercise.”

I hope this article gives you a reason to keep on smiling, even when undergoing difficult challenges.