[dropcap]G[/dropcap]ravity takes its toll as years pass, and many women find themselves bemoaning crow’s feet, frown lines and turkey necks that make them look older than they feel. Experts point to the loss of “fat pads” in the cheeks, bone loss around the eye sockets and cheekbones and overall weak muscles as potential contributors to facial aging. Natural exercise programs designed to reverse these unpleasant signs of aging comprise a new fitness-for-beauty trend.
“Face and neck muscles somehow have been left out of mainstream fitness programs,” observes Denver esthetician and massage therapist Grace Mosgeller, who addresses this void with her series of eight FaceFitnez audio and video exercises. “If you tone the muscles of your face and neck, the skin attached to those muscles firms and tones as well, creating a natural youthful look.”
Muscular stress—the good kind—is at the core of facial fitness, says Mosgeller. She cite’s Wolff’s Law, a wellknown medical theory that bone grows and remodels in response to the tension or muscle engagement put on it. “Regular facial exercise works the muscles to correct the loss of both muscle tone and bone density and build collagen. It might be called the equivalent of pushups, pull-ups and abdominal tucks for the face.”
Carolyn Cleaves, owner of Carolyn’s Facial Fitness, in Seabeck, Washington, near Seattle, a former college professor, developed a facial exercise program for herself upon detecting early signs of aging. With the help of two primary care physicians, she designed a routine that includes 28 basic exercises that target all 57 facial muscles. “As we get older, we lose the underlying layer of fat just beneath the skin, and as a result, we look old and tired,” says Cleaves. She agrees that exercising the face actually helps rebuild lost bone, enlarges the muscles and also builds collagen. A study from the University of Rochester, in New York, confirms that loss of bone mass can start in women as early as age 40. It starts in men 16 to 25 years later.
Mosgeller’s facial exercises work to fade wrinkles and lines and firm up sagging flesh, yielding visible results in as little as two weeks of dedicated training. She says, “Within six to nine months, it’s possible to look five to 10 years younger than when you started.” Her claims are verified by Dr. Carol Lipper, in Denver, who states, “I’ve done the exercises and they work. The trouble is compliance. It’s a lot of work.” She confirms that she saw improvement in her droopy eyelids after just two or three weeks of adhering to Mosgeller’s workouts.
“It seems that every three months or so, I see another leap in results and a younger look,” adds Cleaves of those using her program. Here are a few crucial areas to target, with just a few of these experts’ recommended remedies.
Cleaves’ Crow’s Feet Eliminator: Place fingertips on top of the head, thumbs resting near the corners of the eyes. Shut eyes tightly and slide thumbs toward the temples for a count of five. Repeat 10 times.
Mosgeller’s Rx for Droopy Eyelids: Place index finger on top of a closed eyelid, and then lift fingers up and slightly to the outside. Blink hard and hold. It’s preventive, as well as curative, says Mosgeller, so those over 45 should repeat this 100 times a day, while younger individuals should repeat 20 to 50 times a day.
Mosgeller’s Frown Line Eraser: Pull brows apart with fingers and hold for two seconds. Repeat 50 to 100 times up to six times per week. This is meant to relax and tone the muscles, not build them.
Cleaves’ Turkey Neck Buster: Tilt the head back slightly. With palm facing the neck, grasp under the chin with a wide-open hand and slowly slide hand down to the collarbone; hold there while counting to 10. Repeat five times daily. Kathleen Barnes is author and publisher of many natural health books. Connect at KathleenBarnes.com.