The Link Between Exercise and Healthy Skin

As we age, our skin begins to change, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines and less taut skin. Many of us may still feel 22, but our crow’s feet are giving us away.

These changes occur most noticeably around age 40, as the top protective layer of the epidermis begins to thicken. This top layer is made mostly of dead skin cells and collagen, and as we age, it becomes thicker, flakier, and drier. Simultaneously, the dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis, loses elasticity as it thins.

Studies suggest that genetics, specifically how our mothers age, may influence how we look someday. For some, that’s like hitting the genetic jackpot. However, don’t panic if that’s not quite the case for you. Science has also known that nature is just one part of the equation; there are steps you can take to prolong your healthy skin and fight back against genetic issues.

One way to fight back is through exercise. In fact, multiple recent studies have shown that there is a significant link between exercise and healthy skin, and that exercising regularly can help you obtain glowing skin at any age. Here’s how.

Increased Blood Flow

One of the reasons for glowing skin is the increased blood flow that can be brought on by exercise. So, the next time you work out hard and feel red-faced and sweaty, celebrate that increased blood flow to the dermis! All that sweat helps to detoxify and revitalize your skin. This increased oxygen, nutrients, and hormones which produce the glow are nourishing your skin, giving it a healthy, full appearance.

Reduced Inflammation

A recent study revealed a link between exercise and decreased inflammation of damaged skin. While many people believe that exercise must be intense to be effective, that’s not accurate. As little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, led to reduced inflammation. So, grab your sneakers for an enjoyable stroll because anti-inflammatory effects are yet another reason exercise and healthy skin go together, just don’t forget that SPF!

Exercise Levels Out Cortisol by Decreasing Stress

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and is released when you are stressed, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose. Spiked cortisol levels can also cause acne and collagen breakdown, increasing wrinkles and sagging. Exercise helps to control your cortisol levels, reducing acne and leaving you feeling calm and collected.

The trick is to make sure your workouts balance and don’t exacerbate your cortisol levels. For instance, someone going through an intense, stressful life experience might not need to do a HIIT workout everyday during that process. That’s because some experts believe that daily high-intensity workouts can raise cortisol levels. However, that’s only for those performing endurance sports or who are already in a high-stress period. As an alternative, experts recommend incorporating yoga and gentle exercise into your routine. These activities lower your cortisol levels, leaving you calm and with clearer skin.

How you Treat Skin Post-Workout Matters

Contrary to popular belief, sweat does not clog your pores. Sweat is how the body detoxifies, second only to the liver, and this process does not cause acne. Your routine before and after your workout does matter when it comes to healthy skin. It’s best to leave the makeup off during a workout, but if you do wear it, make sure that it is lightweight so that it won’t clog pores and get in the way of the detoxifying benefits of sweating. Wear a moisturizer with SPF if you are exercising outdoors. Afterwards, use a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and sweat, and take care not to scrub the skin too harshly because this causes irritation. If you don’t carry cleanser in your gym bag even a quick rinse with water will help wash off germs from sweating.

There are countless reasons to exercise: it’s proven to boost energy, relieve stress, reduce your risk of heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes, and increase muscle strength and bone health.

Need one more reason to hit the gym? It’s a natural way to maintain healthy skin at any age.

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