By Catie Ryan, Staff Writer
Exercise seems to be the universal medicine. Want more energy? Exercise. Want to lower your stress levels? Exercise. Want Michelle Obama arms? You know how this goes. Every doctor will tell you that working out alleviates most of your physical maladies, but fewer people voice the incredible effects that it has on your largest organ - skin. Working out not only keeps your body healthy and toned, it also serves as a brilliant way to clear out blemishes, firm skin, and actually help diminish the signs of aging!
The 5 Ways Exercise Improves Your Skin:
1) Acne Relief: When you exercise, your body requires increased amounts of oxygen, amino acids, glucose, and ATP (a molecule that carries energy), causing enhanced blood flow. Blood quickly travels around the body to deliver this nourishment to your cells, all while simultaneously removing toxins and waste. Thus, skin cells get a beautiful detoxifying boost that strips them of the pollutants that cause breakouts and blemishes.
2) Diminish Scarring: The acne-healing upsurge of nutrients that reaches your cells also helps your skin heal scars more quickly. Your entire body gets a boost when you work out, causing an influx of blood reaching your skin that enhances collagen production and strengthens your skin cells. This process makes your body well-equipped to heal itself with ease - just make sure you shower after your sweat sesh. Doing so will help wash off the bad bacteria you don’t want (more on good bacteria in an upcoming article).
3) No More Under-Eye Bags: Bye, bye, puffy, dark circles. The skin around our eyes is fragile and sensitive, making it one of the first places affected by fatigue and irritation. Physical exercise helps the body sleep more soundly, making your tired eyes look energized and bright. Activity, like yoga and running, also enhances your fluid balance, diminishing bloating and your overall facial puffiness. Better yet - not only does exercise immediately alleviate the issue of under-eye bags, it fixes the problem at its core by aiding the body’s natural mechanism of collagen production.
4) Wrinkle Reduction: Do you ever feel a wave of relief after exercise? That’s because it helps your body maintain normal levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol. Cortisol in excess can actually break down the collagen in skin, promoting the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. At the same time, the production of new collagen firms skin for a smooth, ageless complexion.
5) Defy Age: In the most shocking example, studies have shown that exercise can actually strengthen the cellular composition of your skin. As we age, skin naturally becomes weaker and more fragile, but exercise has been shown to actually reverse this process. In preliminary tests involving mice, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario discovered that, when comparing sedentary versus active animals, the latter had not only healthier organs as they aged, but their hair grew longer and never turned gray like their rodent counterparts. In a study involving humans, participants aged 65 and older were instructed to engage in straight-forward endurance exercises (jogging or cycling) for 30 minutes twice a week. After three months, the results showed that the skin of these subjects resembled the chemical composition that of people in the 20- to 40-year-old age range. In this study, the only variable that changed in their lives was their exercise level, which speaks mounds to the power of movement.
If improving your overall wellbeing isn’t enough to convince you to add some physical activity into your daily routine, do it to keep your skin looking bright and fresh. Even if that means strolling through your neighborhood for 30 minutes a day, any source of movement is beneficial to your complexion, physical health and your overall enjoyment of life! So get out there - your skin will thank you!