By Dr. Mercola
Your facial muscles need exercise just as much as the rest of your body. And facial exercises work just like regular muscle exercises.
Intent.com suggests the following to keep your face looking young:
- Raise your eyebrows as high as you can and hold them for five seconds.
- Open your mouth as wide as possible and stick your tongue out as far as you can and hold for a few seconds.
- Using your three center fingers, press down on your cheeks and smile as hard as you can to raise your cheek muscles against your fingers.
- Move your nose as much as you can from side to side.
- Lift your eyebrows as high as you can, open your eyes as wide as possible and frown at the same time.
- Pucker your lips out as far as possible into the shape of an "O." Then change your expression into a wide smile. Repeat several times.
- Sit in a comfortable chair and look up at the ceiling. Pucker your lips and stick your tongue out as far as possible to exercise your neck muscles.
It's a pity that our culture is so into the quick fix, as evidenced by the millions of cosmetic surgeries performed each year in the US alone. However, it’s actually a rare case when consistent application of basic natural therapies isn't sufficient to eliminate the need for these types of surgical interventions.
Although you rarely hear about exercising your face, there’s a surprising amount of information about facial exercising, or “facial yoga,” as many refer to it. It makes perfect sense, of course, and many testify to the power of exercising their facial muscles to keep their face toned and youthful.
Of course, someone with the interest and discipline to perform a facial exercise program on a regular basis may also be more likely to be overall more mindful of leading a healthy, active lifestyle, and this is clearly the number one way to ensure you’re aging as gracefully as humanly possible.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may ward off wrinkles by boosting your skin's natural defenses against sun damage, for example. And clearly, drinking enough water is essential for healthy skin.
I am a major fan of vegetable juicing and do it often when I’m not traveling. You can learn more about this powerful anti-aging tool on my juicing page
The juicing page is actually quite popular. If you type “juicing” into Google it comes up as the second search result.
Making sure you’re properly hydrated will also aid in combating wrinkles simply because your skin will be more plump and elastic. So there’s plenty you can do to ward off the signs of time on your face, without resorting to more invasive surgical procedures.
Exercising Your Face is Just Like Exercising Your Body
The idea behind facial yoga is the same as for exercising the rest of your body, in that facial muscles will naturally begin to lose elasticity and flexibility with age due to lack of use, which leads to a droopy appearance.
Your face consists of more than 50 different muscles, stretched like layered, elastic sheets on top of your cranium and facial tissues. These muscles can act singly and in combination, creating the many facets of facial expressions.
(This DataFace web site offers more information about how the muscles in your face work, including videos that show the facial expressions produced by various facial muscles.)
But aside from allowing you to express emotion, your facial muscles also play a key role in the contouring and shaping of your face, and this is how facial exercises can help you maintain a more youthful look as you age, by preventing drooping eyelids and a sagging neckline, for example.
By regularly exercising your various facial muscles, you can ensure they remain firm, which will support your skin and prevent sagging. Increasing blood flow and circulation through these muscles can also help counteract wrinkles.
Clearly, adopting a regular facial exercise routine is to be preferred over costly, and potentially dangerous, plastic surgeries. It doesn’t require any special equipment, although you can find various contraptions that claim to help, but in general, you can easily perform face yoga using nothing more than your fingers to create light resistance.
Facial Toning Without Surgery or Cosmetics
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of face building programs on the market, and most of them contain similar exercises to shape, tone and firm the various muscles of your face.
Since it’s far easier to follow visual instructions, here are three well made videos that demonstrate simple exercises to combat “crows-feet,” under-eye bags, double chin and sagging jowls, and how to tone and lift your cheek area.
Most recommendations call for repeating each exercise 10 times, at least twice a week, for noticeable results.
In this Howdini.com video, Annelise Hagan, author of The Yoga Face, demonstrates exercises for minimizing eye wrinkles and lifting your brows.
Here Hagan discusses the cause of double chins and sagging jowls, and demonstrates several exercises for firming and toning your neck area.
In this video, Gary Sikorski, creator of Happy Face Yoga, explains and demonstrates how to lift and tone your cheeks and combat bags under your eyes for a more youthful look.
More Strategies to Maintain a Youthful Appearance
At this time, there is no practical way to avoid aging--it's a natural part of life--but there are many things you can do to keep your skin and body looking and feeling vibrant and healthy.
I do believe that strategies to lengthen telomeres hold promise to seriously slow down or even reverse the aging process. But that is at least two to three decades out.
Bottom line is that there are no quick fixes. There will always be some personal effort involved, but the rewards are well worth it – I can’t think of a single healthy, youthful senior who wishes she’d spent less time and effort on staying healthy!
Perhaps above all else, the real "fountain of youth" is a healthy diet. Without this foundation, exercise is not likely to be as effective. And when it comes to the look and feel of your skin, diet is an essential component. In fact, your complexion reveals a lot about your diet and overall health.
Insulin and leptin resistance are major accelerants of the aging processes, so it’s important to keep your insulin and leptin levels low if you want to stay healthy and maintain a youthful look. The most effective way to do this is by reducing or eliminating grains and sugar , especially fructose, in your diet.
Exercise is also crucial, and if you can shift away from aerobics to sprint-type aerobics you will have a powerful way to naturally increase your growth hormone and radically reduce your aging rate.
Vegetables are also extremely important. I’ve seen 75-year-old women in my practice that looked like they were in their 40s, with virtually no facial wrinkles. Most of them were doing large amounts of juicing and led healthy lifestyles. That revelation was one of the reasons why I began juicing myself.
For optimal results you will want to adjust the amount you juice, along with what types of vegetables you use, depending on your nutritional type.
For instance, since I am a strong protein nutritional type, I keep my daily raw juice intake around 12 ounces and often juice celery and spinach, as they are appropriate for my nutritional type.
I go into this concept in detail in my book, Take Control of Your Health, which also includes a basic nutritional typing test.
You will also want to be sure that your diet includes plenty of raw, whole foods, including raw dairy, as this is another of the central keys to avoiding the surgeon's knife and regaining the lost beauty of youth.
A good night's sleep and properly addressing emotional stresses are additional keys to regaining your optimum physical appearance.
One of the best ways to address emotional challenges, which can also lead to insomnia, is with psychological acupressure techniques like The Emotional Freedom Technique / Meridian Tapping Technique.If you create the foundation of health and youthfulness by addressing your diet, exercise, sleep, and stress, then adding facial yoga could very well make a world of difference, allowing you to look far younger than your calendar age.