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5 Benefits of Exercise for Skin Health

Woman holds weights as she exercises for benefits including better skin health according to advice from plastic surgeon Dr. Karen Szymanski

You know that exercise is good for you, but are you aware of the benefits to your skin? As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Szymanski frequently works with patients who have concerns about skin health, whether on the face or body. No matter the area you’re concerned with, getting active and getting that blood pumping can help improve your skin and overall health.

Skin covers our entire body, serving as a protective barrier both inside and out. With any cosmetic procedure, skin health can impact the outcome. When choosing to undergo a plastic surgery procedure, we want every patient to experience optimal results, so healthy skin is vital. Exercise can help improve your skin in several ways, so we’re breaking down the five habits below as well as how to get the most benefit.

1: Exercise Nourishes Cells

When we exercise, the heart pumps more blood to meet the needs of our muscles. This increase in blood flow isn’t limited to the muscles you’re activating. This oxygen-rich blood and nutrients are pushed throughout your body’s cells, including your skin. More nourished cells have better turnover, repair, and function. This means that flush you feel is a helpful supply of fuel for your skin. It is believed that this increased blood flow also improves collagen production, the substance that keeps skin plump and youthful.

2: Exercise Flushes Toxins

In this same process of increased blood flow comes the equally important opposite effect of more efficient waste removal. As blood moves through the body, it acts as a carrier to and from cells bringing supplies and taking back waste for removal.

3: Exercise Reduces Stress

No matter the source, stress triggers specific physical responses in our bodies. When we are stressed, we are more prone to breakouts and aggravating other skin conditions, including eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Exercise has known stress-reducing benefits and can help regulate stress hormones in the body. There is also evidence that reducing stress helps keep the immune system healthy and respond efficiently when a concern arises with your skin or the body as a whole.

4: Exercise Reverses Signs of Aging

Studies show exercise helps you look younger, but this extends to your skin. One study of adults 65 and older started by taking a base sample, then re-evaluating the skin after asking one group to perform an aerobic exercise regimen for three months. After the test period, researchers found that those in the exercise group more similarly resembled the skin of significantly younger, healthy individuals. This study indicated that it was possible to turn back the signs of aging by adding exercise to your routine.

5: Exercise Improves Overall Health

Exercise benefits your overall health, some noted above, which extend to your skin. Prioritizing overall health positively affects the skin—exercise balances hormones including cortisol, insulin, thyroid hormones, and your sex hormones. Hormonal imbalances lead to skin issues, making you more vulnerable to infection. Ultimately, when your body is busy dealing with health conditions or other struggles, it cannot expend as many resources on healthy skin, hair, and nails. When we focus on overall health and exercise, we may also be more prone to choose better fuel to feed our bodies, leading to improved nutrition and abundant vitamins and minerals for optimal function.

How to Receive the Most Benefit from Exercise

Anytime you are changing your exercise regimen, it is valuable to talk to your doctor to establish a safe and healthy routine for you. Keep in mind that overly taxing exercise can have a reverse effect, resulting in injury or overworking your systems.

Any exercise where sun exposure is involved should include adequate protection. We always recommend a daily SPF with exposed skin. Still, when exercising outdoors, you should take special care to apply SPF and protective clothing and diligently reapply as sweat can wash away your protective barriers.

Hygiene is important! Keep your skin clean and take care to wash with a gentle cleanser after exercising. Utilize moisture-wicking clothing that fits appropriately to avoid issues like chafing and irritation.

Stay hydrated and remember that exercising generally increases your hydration needs. Hydration is essential for all the cells in your body, especially the skin. Hydrating your skin comes from the inside.

Know that if you are starting a new regimen, you may experience an initial flare-up of acne or other skin conditions, but the benefits for your skin should take over in the long term. If you experience longer-term issues, talk to your doctor about changes you need to consider.

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