Glowy. Clear. Bright. Radiant. All things we want our skin to be, but don’t always put in the effort. I’ve certainly fallen victim to the lazy mindset that all my lifestyle sins can be counteracted with fancy skin care products. You can try to achieve good looking skin from the outside alone, but there’s one piece of the puzzle that many people miss.
By now we all know the benefits that regular exercise has on our bodies and minds, but have you heard of the positive impact it can have on skin? What we do on the surface can only do so much, but exercise goes far deeper.
How blood helps our skin function its best
A plentiful supply of oxygenated blood gives the deepest skin cells the care they need. This includes clearing away waste, providing cells to fight infection, antioxidants to treat DNA-damaging free radicals, and a range of vitamins and minerals. These deep skin cells are where our bodies create the newest skin that makes its way to the surface and so impact the health of the skin you see on the outside.
Without this blood supply, nutrient- and antioxidant-starved cells that have been damaged by free radicals and age have no way of regenerating. This damage has a chain reaction effect, leading to further damage and susceptibility to disease and infection including acne, slowed wound healing, increased bruising and faster visible ageing.
Undamaged skin that has enough healthy blood flow will grow healthily, free of disease, and experience faster healing. This means maximum plumpness and firmness and reduced dryness, wrinkles and acne among many other benefits.
The positive effects of exercise on skin
The biggest key to creating this nourished environment from the inside out is building a strong cardio-respiratory system – meaning the lungs and the heart. This system supports healthy blood flow to and from all areas of the body (and especially when it comes to skin in the extremities like hands and feet).
A faster heart rate will increase all over blood flow temporarily as well as strengthen the muscles of the heart and the quality of blood vessels over time. Deeper breathing stimulated by exercise will oxygenate the blood to help meet the needs of your muscles. This combines to create plenty nutrient-rich blood all around the body not only in the short term but also the long term.
But it’s not all about blood flow; exercising offers several other benefits for skin health.
Lately, some promising studies have shown the positive effects of interleukin-15, a molecule known as a cytokine which is produced during exercise. Aside from numerous larger health implications regarding the treatment or viruses and even cancer, it’s capable of reversing the thinning of the deepest skin layers that naturally occurs with age. Thicker skin minimises overall redness, susceptibility to infection and even under eye circles.
Scientists have also proven that exercise reduces stress and associated cortisol levels, which can in turn reduce all manner of skin conditions from acne to eczema. Cortisol also speeds up the breakdown of collagen so exercise can help keep skin plump for longer by preventing this breakdown.
It’s important to note that sweat lingering on the skin after intense exercise can weaken the skin barrier that defends and invite infection. To avoid this, be sure to shower and dry off as soon as you’re done exercising!
The best exercises to reap these benefits
The achieve maximum skin health, the best kind of workout is something high-intensity and aerobic which will strengthen the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. As for how much to exercise, experts suggest getting in 4 hours a week.
My personal suggestions include swimming, dancing, running, cycling, team sports, body weight circuits or even boxing! Whatever gets your blood pumping and that you enjoy and can do for 30+ minutes a day.
While it’s not the easy fix many people seek, exercise clearly has a huge impact on your skin. You should think of it as one of many overlapping parts of holistic skin care.
Exercise won’t fix deep-rooted skin conditions that require doctor’s help, nor will it counteract other bad skin care habits or overall poor health. But it will help lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle that’s a stepping stone to great skin and provide some sweet benefits along the way.
This is all to say that there are innumerable whole-body benefits to physical fitness and skin is just a small part of it. But if getting great skin is what’s going to motivate you to make a positive change, who am I to stop you? Happy exercising!
Thank you to The Skin Careless for sharing her knowledge and experience of holistic skincare. An interesting and helpful read, I’m sure you’ll agree! Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments below. In the meantime, you can find The Skin Careless elsewhere on the internet:
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