By @coreflexpilates founder @chrisbardawil
Exercise keeps our skin clear and firm, boosts its blood flow, removes toxins, and lowers cortisol levels. All of these factors are beneficial for the skin, but there are some things to be aware of when it comes to exercise and skin health, these are mainly; redness, bacteria, and drying out of the skin.
When first looking up this subject, I assumed that the advantages of exercise for skin would greatly outweigh the drawbacks. While it is true that exercising regularly ought to keep our skin glowing and flushed with nutrients, there are some exceptions and we have to know how to manage the downsides. Firstly though let’s look into some of the things that exercise does that will improve your skin and why.
Improves Collagen Production
Collagen is the protein responsible for healthy joints and skin, it naturally decreases as we age and gets harder for the body to produce. Leading to joint issues and less plump skin. Thankfully exercise has been proven to increase collagen production naturally, this comes from the increased blood flow and cellular turnover which helps the body stimulate collagen production leaving you with a healthy complexion.
Increased Blood/Oxygen Flow Nourishes Skin Cells
This aspect of exercise and skin health works in two ways; firstly the activity increases delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin and also accelerates removal of waste products and free radicals. This protects the skin from further damage.
Sweating Detoxifies Skin Cells
A good sweat is the best way to remove environmental toxins and heavy metals from the body, it increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage which helps maintain clear skin. In short, sweating is our bodies way to remove all the bad stuff we don't want and help keep pores and your skin clear.
Promotes Cell Growth
Regular exercise promotes the body's production of telomerase, an enzyme which protects our DNA and leads to better cell growth and replication. This has been shown to be produced in even higher levels when doing higher intensity exercise.
Reduces Signs of Aging
This is a byproduct of all the things above, while exercise wont remove your smile lines and crow's feet it will noticeably improve the general appearance of your skin leaving it looking nourished and healthy.
While all of these things are great we have to be aware of how to manage certain skin issues that can be triggered by exercise.
For instance, exercise may temporarily make rosacea, a skin condition that causes bumps and redness, worse. If you are prone to this condition, take precautions to cool down after exercise, such as taking a cold shower or washing your face with cold water. Eat cooling foods like cucumber, watermelon, and yoghurt as well as lots of cold beverages.
Working out can also result in skin breakouts that are brought on by clogged pores. For this reason, it's important to avoid wearing makeup while working out and to only use a light moisturiser and cleanse your skin before a heavy workout. You want to make it as easy as possible for your pores to breathe and your sweat glands to function while you exercise so that they don't clog and cause spots, rash-like bumps, or blemishes.
Another issue to be cautious of is exercising outdoors as UV damage is a major contributor to premature aging. The sun is at its strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you have to workout outdoors during these times, use a light sports moisturiser with SPF and cover up with a hat and other protective breathable clothing.
Exercise also causes your skin to lose water through evaporation, which makes it even more crucial to stay hydrated before and after workouts. Although keeping skin hydrated topically is the best form of defence- a hydrating moisturiser after exercise and a weekly face mask if you exercise regularly to help rehydrate the skin.
All in all you're doing your skin a great deal of good through exercise, just make sure you learn to manage the downsides and maximise the benefits that come to your skin from your workout and exercise routine.