Exercise and Healthy Skin

With the holiday season behind us, many of us are now focusing on our New Year’s resolutions.  One of the most popular resolutions is getting in shape and being healthier.  You may be making some positive changes in your diet and hitting the gym to knock off a few pounds.  Exercise is a wonderful lifestyle habit for your overall health, but did you know it also improves skin health?  It does indeed! 

Benefits of Exercise for Skin

Skin is dependent on healthy circulation and exercise is a terrific way to get your blood pumping.  When blood reaches all areas of the body, it delivers powerful nutrients, water and oxygen to cells.  As you know, skin cells, like all bodily cells, thrive on these three key elements.  Plus, as blood flows through the body, it carries away waste products from cells, helping to flush debris out of skin cells.

Exercise can also help relieve stress, which has a big impact on skin.  Sebaceous glands are often overactive during times of stress, creating excess sebum oil that can clog pores and lead to acne.  When stress hormones are under control through stress management techniques including regular exercise, hormones remain in balance and skin is more likely to cooperate. 

Another great benefit of exercise is muscle strength, toning of the body and reducing body fat.  Fat cells tend to hold toxins, which can wreak havoc on internal organs and skin.  With less fat, musculature shows, creating a slimmer and more defined appearance.  This may also improve self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image, which reduces stress as well.  Additionally, a recent study out of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada shows that regular exercise can make skin cells look up to 40 years younger when examined under a microscope.  One reason for this drastic shift in skin-age may be due to myokins, a substance released by working muscles.  Myokins are known to invigorate cells, which may be responsible for these anti-aging results.

Best Exercise Practices for Skin

A healthy exercise routine of both cardiovascular and strength-building activities is best for overall health and skin health.  Both keeps blood flowing smoothly, help tone muscles and helps burn through fat and calories for weight management.  Remember, working out isn’t all about going to the gym.  There are many physical activities that get your heart pumping, including sports, hiking, swimming, cycling and dancing.  When exercising outdoors, be sure to protect your skin from sun and wind damage.  Be sure to wear SPF mineral sunscreen, a daily moisturizer and protective clothing to shield your skin from UV rays and the harsh elements. 

Overcoming Exercise-Related Skin Challenges

Working out can exacerbate some existing skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, but the benefits far outweigh these skin setbacks.  There are simple ways to prevent and overcome these skin problems related to exercise.   Those who suffer from eczema or psoriasis may notice flare-ups after particularly sweaty workouts.  Perspiration is very salty, which can dry out skin.  Try applying a light moisturizer on your face, arms, legs and areas that tend to get sweaty (such as armpits) to avoid excessive dryness.  Rosacea can worsen as the body becomes hot or flush, especially in a warm environment.  Working out in a cool room or selecting an activity such as swimming may be better for anyone with this existing condition.  Also, people with sensitive skin may experience rashes due to chaffing while exercising.  Be sure to wear clothes that fit snugly and won’t rub skin during movement, and apply moisturizer in areas that tend to get chaffed, such as between the legs. 

If you need one more reason to make exercise a priority in the New Year, let beautiful skin be it.  Along with a healthy diet and all-natural skin care routine, your workouts can help illuminate the way to glowing skin in 2015!

Erin Stieglitz
Erin Stieglitz