RECENT RESEARCH STUDY FINDINGS SEEM TO SUPPORT the concept behind the opening of a novel chain of centers aimed at facial fitness and beauty. Rina Raphael reported on this for FastCompany.com, in an article, “The world’s first face gym wants to make your head sweat.”
FaceGym in London, was founded 2 years ago by Inge Theron, a U.K. beauty journalist. A New York City studio will be opening in Noho. FaceGym is s a spa-like operation offering 30-45 minute communal sessions, starting at $70, that resemble exercise routines. Warm-up, workout, cooldown. Theron says some of it might be considered relaxing, but other components makes the face hurt, just like muscles after a tough workout at a traditional gym.
Trainers do the massaging, kneading, and contorting of muscles. The research study did not have trainers performing the moves.
In the Northwestern University study, led by Dr Murad Alam who is vice-chair and professor of Dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, participants were first trained to perform 32 separate exercises. Then they went home to work 30 minutes each day, for 8 weeks on the routines. During weeks 9-20 the exercise routine was performed every other day (3-4 times/week).
An article by Sarah Knapton on the website telgraph.co.uk of British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph,explains the theory behind the research. “How 30 minutes of facial exercises a day can make women look three years younger”, reports that reduced facial skin elasticity with aging leads to the downward sliding of little fat pads that lie between skin and muscle. A plump youthful appearance is lost as the skin sags and the fat pads re-locate, causing the “face to fall.”
Dr. Alam, and Dr. Emily Poon, an assistant research professor at Feinberg, were quoted in the story. If the muscles became bigger, it was thought, “the skin has more suiffing underneath it, and the firmer muscle appears to make the shape of the face more full”.
The scientists concluded that “a regimen of at-home facial exercises maintained for 20 weeks seemed to improve mid-face and lower face fullness.” The mechanism, they proposed, was that muscles hypertrophied, or enlarged, just as they do in other parts of the body with training. Further research is needed to identify “causes and effects” and determine if the regimen works generally in all persons.
The Knapton article has images demonstrating some of the exercises and a link to the website of the "face-yoga” trainer Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga, who developed the 32 exercises and who co-authored the paper.
Spending money on sessions in a face gym may not result in the same outcomes as in the research study, especially if the effort is passive. Just like in gyms that train the rest of the body’s muscles, you probably need to put in the work yourself.
However, if the spa-like sessions are also used to train clients and encourage regular exercise at home, they could be a wonderful, if expensive, support system. Consider purchasing Sikorski’s DVD and spending 30 minutes at home each day in front of a mirror instead. Or perform the exercises that are demonstrated in the article and YouTube demonstration at no cost.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Notes on the research:
The twenty-seven women in the study were self-selected (volunteered) and between the ages of 40 -65 years. There were a mix of races and ethnicities, but predominantly non-Hispanic/Latino whites participated.
The outcome was measured by 2 physicians who were blinded as to the participant age. They were asked to rate facial characteristics (wrinkles, lines, folds, fullness, crow’s feet etc.) by viewing photographs, and then estimate the age of each participant. Participants were also asked to rate their satisfaction with the changes on a 11point scale.
“Blinded ratings of validated photoscales showed significant improvement in upper and lower cheek fullness”. The mean age estimate decreased by roughly 2.7 years after treatment (50.8y to 49.6y at 8 weeks, and to 48.1y at 20 weeks. Participants were all highly satisfied!
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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