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How Exercise Improves Your Skin

February 04, 2021

Everyone on planet earth knows exercise is good for you. But what everyone doesn’t know is that regular exercise can have an enormous impact on the health and appearance of your skin. When we exercise, we create balance within the body, which in turn allows our organs to function optimally. And when our bodies and organs are functioning efficiently and healthfully, it impacts our skin positively. So, dust off that old elliptical and start sweating your way to healthier, more youthful skin!

Exercise Increases Blood Flow

    When we exercise, our blood flow increases, working our heart and circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body. With the increase in blood flow, vital nutrients are delivered to our skin cells, allowing them to reproduce and repair. A regular exercise routine can also result in improved circulation even when you’re not hitting the treadmill, which means your skin will benefit from a regular dose of vital nutrients around the clock. Improved blood flow also removes toxins from the body more efficiently, which means nutrients are getting to where they need to be faster, while toxins exit the body faster.  

    Exercise Promotes Collagen Production

      As we just discussed, when we exercise, we increase and improve blood circulation which delivers oxygen and nutrients to our skin. Once the oxygen and nutrients arrive, they assist skin cells in reproduction as well as feeding the fibroblast cells that produce collagen. But why is collagen so important when it comes to caring for our skin? Because collagen is one of the biggest components in the anti-aging process, preventing wrinkles and preserving elasticity. With your collagen production ramping up, your skin will thank you for that early morning jog.

      Exercise Eases Stress

        It’s long been proven that regular exercise eases stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety cause inflammation in the body, which in turn kick-starts a damaging oxidative stress process which increases the production of free radicals in the body. And free radicals can wreak havoc on our skin, breaking down collagen and causing wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines and saggy skin. On top of all that, stress may compromise our skin's barrier, leaving it more susceptible to allergens and thus adverse reactions and irritation. But by exercising regularly, the body maintains balance and creates components and chemicals designed to counteract free radicals. Not only that, but there is a correlation between a reduction in stress and an improvement in skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The reason? Because stress influences the sebaceous glands in the body which are responsible for producing oil. 

        Also, a decrease in stress means better sleep. And better sleep is a key component in keeping skin healthy and youthful. So, stop stressing and start the sit-ups! 

        Exercise Can Change Our Skin on a Cellular Level

          Did you know improved blood flow from exercise promotes new target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" noreferrer="">skin cell productionwhich gives skin a youthful glow? Why? Because each skin cell is made up of mitochondria which produces a chemical known as ATP. ATP is directly responsible for skin repair, as well as creating the components to keep skin healthy, including collagen and hyaluronic acid. However, as we age, our cells produce less mitochondria, which means less ATP production. But, a recent studysuggests exercise can actually reverse the mitochondrial changes within muscle. Because exercise increases mitochondrial production, your skin cells have a better chance at slowing down the aging process and maintaining a healthier, and more youthful looking appearance.  

          Exercise Gets Rid of Cellular Debris and Forms New Cells

            As stated above, exercise increases blood flow, and an increase in blood flow helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from cells. When we exercise, that blood flow helps to flush cellular debrisout of our bodies, essentially cleansing the skin from within. However, it’s important to understand that exercise does not “detoxify” our skin. It simply helps nourish skin cells by delivering oxygen and nutrients to them. 

            Not only that, but sweat can remove dead skin cells (a major cause of acne flare-ups) which results in the coveted “after workout glow.” But remember—sweating can also exacerbate skin conditions. That’s why it’s essential to shower and cleanseimmediately after a workout to maintain your “afterglow.”

            Important Notes

            Now that you’re ready to exercise, it’s important to understand how to maximize results while also reducing the risk of skin damage. 

            1. If you’re workout routine takes you outdoors, be sure to wear sunscreen, otherwise you’re doing more harm than good.

            1. Sweating and chafing can cause rashes. If you have sensitive skin, opt for looser fitting workout attire to reduce the risk of irritation.

            1. Sweat can exacerbate eczema and psoriasis. But don’t worry! By using a moisturizer before working out and showering immediately after, you’ll actually be taking an important step in curbing your adverse skin conditions.

            Savy Guthrie is a dermatology PA with 17 years of patient care experience and is the founder of Theoderma Skin Care.

            Savy with her dog

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