Exercise For Skin Health

Exercise For Skin Health

Being a couch potato is bad for your complexion. For real. Not only does a sedentary lifestyle affect your musculoskeletal well-being and your digestive system, but it also may be detrimental to your skin. According to WebMD, regular exercise is one of the keys to healthy skin. It can get you that glowing look that you just can't fudge any other way. "Every cell in the human body benefits from physical activity,"says Tim Church, MD, PhD, and Director of Preventative Medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Your skin is no exception. Here are just a few ways that your skin can benefit from a little activity. . .


Reduces Skin Inflammation

"Inflammation is one of the fundamental underlying causes of almost all chronic disease, including certain cancers,"says Mark Hyman, MD, founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center in Lennox, Massachusetts., and coauthor of UltraPrevention: The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Life. "It's the common thread that links together a lot of different problems, and for the first time, science is understanding these underlying roots of illness."A recent study by the Columbia University Medical Center shows that exercise has been linked to a decrease in inflammation in the body. Exercise produces endorphins (hormones secreted by the brain that have a pain-relieving effect, making us feel good). These endorphins help to reduce our stress level and the resultant stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is implicated in the inflammatory process and is known to provoke acne and break down collagen.

Exercise Can Clear Your Pores

 Consistent physical activity increases blood circulation, nourishing your skin with nutrients that help to repair damage from the sun and environmental pollutants. When you sweat, your pores open up and expel toxins, dirt, and oil, essentially "flushing"your system. Don't stop there, though. You need to be sure to shower and wash your face after exercise to avoid having all that gunk sitting on your skin for an extended period of time, making matters worse instead of better.

Combats Signs of Aging

Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario have concluded that exercise has a positive effect on aging skin. They found that after age 40, the men and women who exercised frequently had markedly thinner, healthier stratum corneums and thicker dermis layers in their skin. Their skin was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others their age, even if they were past age 65. Not only that, but they found that when people with normal skin for their age (65 at the time of the study) began an exercise regimen, their skin changed for the better by the end of three months, also resembling the 20- to 40-year olds. "I don't want to over-hype the results, but, really, it was pretty remarkable to see,"said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, Professor of Pediatrics and Exercise Science at McMaster who oversaw the study. Under a microscope, the volunteers' skin "looked like that of a much younger person, and all that they had done differently was exercise."

Exercise Leads to Less Stress and More Restful Sleep

Exercise primes your body to wind down and actually relax. When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol (the fight or flight hormone). When we don't use that cortisol up and allow it to circulate in the body, our natural cortisol rhythms (high in the morning, low in the evening) flatten out, leaving us wound up tight. Exercise is a great outlet for that cortisol. "It sends a message to the brain that you're using the cortisol for its original purpose -movement - and that it's safe to turn off the tap afterward,"explains Shawn Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and author of The Metabolic Method. What does that mean for your skin? Your skin does its best job repairing itself while you're sleeping, and it's the deepest stages of sleep that matter the most! Your skin makes new collagen while you catch your zzz's, but if you don't get enough sleep, your body doesn't have time to produce new cells or fix yesterday's damage. During the deep stages of sleep, growth hormone secretion (in charge of repairing and rebuilding body tissues) increases. One study shows that even as little as one night of poor sleep will have a negative impact on various components of skin health.Another study indicated that chronic poor sleep quality is associated with signs of intrinsic aging, diminished skin barrier function, and lower satisfaction with appearance. There's no reason to not make a habit out of tiring yourself out on a regular basis!

Exercise Provides That "Healthy Glow"

Getting your blood pumping helps to feed your skin with a healthy dose of oxygenated blood, says Noelle S. Sherber, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Baltimore, Maryland. "It gives you that post-workout glow."That glow may be maintained for hours after a workout because the tiny blood vessels that lie close to the surface will dilate during exercise, and stay that way for a while.