CINCINNATI -- Wander through a typical drugstore and you'll find all sorts of creams and products promising to flatten out wrinkles, deflate under-eye bags and make you look 25 again.
One thing you may not have considered is exercise. Hitting the gym can shape up most parts of your body, so why not your face?
A new study published this month in JAMA Dermatology reported that middle-aged women appeared an average of three years younger after several months of "facial yoga."
You've probably heard about yoga's bodily benefits from increased flexibility to better muscle tone and strength. However, for students with an eye on aging, instructor Mari Enders is offering a different facial exercise each week at It's Working Out in Columbia-Tusculum.
"This is going to deal with the top of your face and diminishes the look of crows feet around your eyes," Enders instructs, guiding students through the movements. "You are almost doing pushups in your face, pushups in the cheek muscles, pushups in the eyebrows."
Enders began looking into facial yoga after Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine published its first-of-its-kind study on Jan. 3.
"It's not hard at all, but you have to be patient. You are holding some positions for 30 seconds, which can be a lot," Enders said.
The study found that 30 minutes per day or every other day enhanced upper and lower cheek fullness in the 16 middle-aged women who completed the study. The participants reported being "highly satisfied with the results."
“Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way for looking younger or to augment other cosmetic or anti-aging treatments they may be seeking,” said Murad Alam, lead author of the study.
William Kitzmiller, the University of Cincinnati's chief of plastic surgery, said facial exercises could help to a limited extent. Surgical procedures are necessary for dramatic results, he said, admitting that things like Botox and fillers aren't for everyone.
"You have to be very sensitive to where someone is coming from and have honest discussions about what their goals and tradeoffs are," Kitzmiller said.
Rebeca Arbona had that conversation with herself. She chose yoga at It's Working Out over the nip, tuck or needle.
"I don't want pain, and it's easy, and I do it in my bed at night," Arbona said. "I lie there in the dark and do as many as I can remember, and they look kind of funny, so I'm glad no one can see me do them. ... I can't prove there have been benefits, but I'm sticking with them because I think it doesn't hurt a thing!"