You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of exercise for controlling weight, preventing certain diseases and health conditions, such as stroke, diabetes and arthritis, and even for improving your mood. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling. Exercise also helps you sleep better.
If these weren’t enough reasons to get regular exercise, here’s another. Exercise is good for your skin.
It boosts circulation. The increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the skin’s cells to give your skin that overall glow. And when you work up a sweat, pores dilate to release trapped dirt and oil. (Just make sure to wash off the debris as soon as possible so it doesn’t run back into your pores.)
Since exercise also helps to ease stress, it can benefit your skin as well. This means that some skin conditions, such as acne, that are exacerbated by stress can show some improvement with exercise. Studies show that stress hormones influence the sebaceous glands, which produce oil in the skin. Skin oil called sebum alone does not cause acne. However, when sebum mixes with dead skin cells, pores can become clogged forming a plug. Bacteria in the plug may build up, resulting in an infection and swelling, which can lead to the development of a blemish.
Exercise may help reverse skin aging
Exercise not only helps keep skin glowing, research at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, suggests that exercise can contribute to reversing the skin’s signs of aging.
McMaster researchers collected data from 29 men and women between the ages of 20 and 84. They did skin biopsies on the buttocks of the participants, since that is an area of the body that could not be affected by sun damage. They found the older participants had thicker outer layers of skin and thinner inner layers compared to younger participants. This was expected since as we age the protective outer layer of the skin, which is called the stratum corneum, thickens and the inner layer or the dermis starts to thin.
The researchers then found that the skin of people over 40 who exercised frequently (at least three times a week) did not age as fast when compared to the skin of sedentary people who were of similar age. Those who exercised had decidedly thinner, healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers in their skin. Even if they were past age 65, the skin of those who exercised was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others of their age. Even more fascinating, when sedentary participants 65 or older were asked to start on endurance training, working out twice a week, their skin showed signs of reverse aging. It looked similar to the skin of the 20- to 40- year olds.
Clearly, there are lots of reasons why exercise should be part of your regular weekly routine to maintain clear glowing skin and even reduce the signs of aging.
In addition to exercise to help your skin look younger, try . Six new easy-to-use products can help decrease fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration associated with natural skin aging.
Gretchen Reynolds, “Younger Skin Through Exercise,” New York Times, April 16, 2014
Cheri Cheng: “Exercise can Reverse Signs of Aging,” Counsel & Heal, April 18, 2014