When I smile in tandem with movement during physical activity, I ‘exer-smile.’

Anaerobic activity

When practicing postures, I synchronize my movements with my breathing. One of my goals when exercising is to add smiles to my inhales. As a result, when looking at me as I exercise, it becomes easier to notice my inhales.

Mild aerobic activity

My favorite sport is long-distance walking, out in nature. For most of my walk, I pace leisurely, but I make it a point to increase my tempo or climb up a slope to speed up my heartbeat for a while. When walking, I recharge, relax, and get my lungs pumping.

While taking a walk, I breathe faster than usual; but I don’t get into a hyperventilation state. That’s because my cells generate extra Carbon Dioxide when I make a physical effort. So, when I combine smile-breathing with an activity, I don’t need to add breath-holds. I breathe circularly, connecting my exhales to my inhales.

I use my diaphragm while I ‘exer-smile,’ pushing my navel fully forward when inhaling, and I try to avoid ribcage and chest inflation as much as possible.

How I ‘exer-smile’ while walking leisurely

  1. I inhale, partially inflating my abdomen to reach about half my diaphragm’s amplitude, while Duchenne-smiling with my mouth closed – 1 count.
  2. Inhale further to maximum diaphragm amplitude while opening my mouth and exposing my teeth – 1 count.
  3. Exhale gradually, shifting into a neutral facial expression, relaxing my facial muscles, and deflating my abdomen so that my diaphragm returns to its neutral dome shape – 4 counts.

When I switch my walking tempo to ‘brisk,’ I drop ‘exer-smiling.’ That’s because synchronizing the quick shifts of facial expressions with my breathing doesn’t work well for me.

On a good day, when adding ‘exer-smiling’ to my usual smile-breathing practices, I ‘collect’ a lot of smiles. I easily reach my minimum target of 100 daily smiles. My goal is to get close to the number of times children smile during the day, which is in the hundreds.