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How Exercise Changes Your Skin

As we all know, exercise is beneficial to us in many ways. Do you ever wonder, whether exercise has an effect on our skin, the largest organ in our body?

Exercise can give rise to both positive and negative impacts on your skin.

What are the positive effects of exercise on your skin?

  • Achieve healthy glowing skin

During exercise blood flow to your skin increases, because blood vessels dilate. When your heart rate is increased during exercise, heart pumps more blood which also reaches our skin. When the blood flow increases, the toxic substances and cellular debris which build up are washed out.

Oxygen and nutrients also reach the skin making it healthier. If you stick to a regular fitness routine, the overall appearance of your skin will improve and you will get a glow as it looks and feels healthy.

  • Anti-aging effect

Increased blood circulation to skin promotes collagen production and new skin cell formation which contributes to anti-aging effect. Collagen is a protein which is the support structure of your skin. Increased collagen will reduce fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin which will make you look younger.

Skin loses its elasticity as we age. Strength training and toning muscles through exercise help maintain the firmness of your skin.

  • Removal of toxins

Aerobic exercise makes you sweat and promotes removal of toxins through perspiration.

  • Clearing pores

When you exercise, you keep sweating which helps to clear out your skin pores. You have to make sure that you remove all makeup prior to exercise. If not makeup can clog your pores, and sweating will not help to clear them.

  • Post work out glow

It is found that after a good work out, your skin gets a glow which may last for several hours. This glow is due to increased blood flow to your skin, endorphins (feel-good hormones) which are released during exercise and the dewy appearance from sweat. Glowing look following exercise will help you to look and feel good too.

  • Easing of stress causing reduction of certain skin conditions

Stress is a known risk factor for skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. As exercise reduces your stress levels, these skin conditions can be controlled too. However, it is a debatable point as eczema and psoriasis may worsen due to salt perspiration. This can be prevented by applying a moisturizer before your work out. After you shower, re-apply moisturizer to prevent dryness which can exacerbate eczema and psoriasis.

Stress hormones increase sebum production which worsens acne. As exercise reduces stress, overproduction of sebum and therefore, clogging of pores is eliminated which reduces your acne.

What are the negative effects of exercise on your skin?

  • Outdoor exercise leading to sun damage

If you do your exercise like jogging, cycling and swimming outdoors, it can negatively affect your skin, if you are not careful. UV rays of the sun can damage your skin. To protect from sunburn, make sure you apply a good sunscreen on all exposed areas of your skin before you do any outdoor exercise.

Oil-free water-resistant sunscreens will prevent your skin pores from clogging and will not drip off with sweat.

  • May give rise to irritation and rashes in certain areas of your body

Sweating, friction and moisture build-up especially on your skin folds can lead to irritation and rashes. To prevent this, you can use an anti- perspirant to prevent excessive sweating.

Make sure you take a shower following exercise and dry off your skin folds, especially your inner thighs, under your breasts, axilla and buttocks.

If your skin folds stay moist for long periods, you may develop intertrigo, which is a fungal/ yeast infection leading to itchy red patches.

  • Triggering of Rosacea flareups

As exercise increases blood flow to the skin, some of you who have rosacea may get exacerbations leading to redness.

These post workout flareups can be reduced by applying a topical cream, using oral medications and LASER. Discuss with your dermatologist regarding these medications.

  • Worsening of Psoriasis

Sweating especially on scalp during exercise can worsen psoriasis. Make sure you wash your scalp after exercise, and apply steroid lotion afterwards which you have been prescribed.

Exercise benefits your skin by making it healthy and vibrant. However, the negative effects of exercise are inevitable. Cleansing your skin and removing makeup before exercise, taking a shower, and drying yourself well especially over skin folds will help to prevent many of these negative effects.


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