1 – Exercise boosts your circulation!
When it comes to your skin, your circulation really matters! In my blog, ‘Why is your circulatory system so important for your skin?’ I go into much more depth, so if you want a more detailed explanation please check it out.
In the meantime, I’ll cover the basics – the primary function of your circulation is to transport oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to different parts of your body and to carry waste products and toxins away from these areas.
As I’m sure you’re aware by now, your skin relies on certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to stay healthy and, if it doesn’t get an adequate supply of these nutrients, your complexion will certainly suffer. The problem only gets worse if waste products and toxins aren’t being transported away from your skin as they will build up, making you more vulnerable to free-radical damage, flare-ups and breakouts.
However, exercise works to prevent these problems and gets your blood pumping, encouraging a steady flow of nutrients to your skin. In these instances, cardio exercises such as running or aerobics can be particularly beneficial!
2 – Exercise helps you to build up a sweat!
When it comes to your skin, sweat can be a controversial subject, especially if you suffer from eczema.
If sweat is allowed to linger on your skin, it can lead to inflammation and possibly even infections. It’s not all bad news though! Sweating can have a number of benefits for your skin – it can help to get rid of toxins, support your liver and even fight premature ageing.
That’s why, rather than avoiding sweat completely, I think it’s important to know how to manage it. If you are going to be working-out, don’t let sweat linger on your skin for too long – take a towel with you to the gym or your exercise class.
Staying hydrated is also extremely important – if you’re not staying on top of your fluid levels, you can easily risk becoming dehydrated which, aside from harming your skin, can also lead to symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness or even fainting!
3 – Exercises eases stress and anxiety!
Feeling run down, tired and stressed? It turns out a trip to your local gym or joining an exercise class could be just what you need to perk your mood up!
Numerous studies have made positive links between exercise and your mental wellbeing, for a number of reasons. Exercising helps to increase blood flow to the brain, regulates sleep patterns and stimulates the release of endorphins - happy hormones that help to induce feelings of euphoria!
But what does stress relief have to with your skin? Well, stress can be a major trigger for inflammation which in turn can negatively impact a variety of skin conditions such as eczema. It also doesn’t help that when we experience stress or anxiety, our fight or flight reflexes are activated. Consequently, our digestive system becomes sluggish and crucial nutrients are redirected away from our skin towards other areas of the body, such as the lungs and heart.
So, if stress is a factor in your life it might just be time to consider shaking up your routine. It doesn’t have to be anything too extreme – in fact, low impact exercises such as tai chi or mindful stretching are believed to help combat mood problems by teaching deep breathing techniques and encouraging mindfulness!
4 – Exercise improves your sleep patterns!
Beauty sleep isn’t just a myth, it’s very real! Your skin, like almost every other part of your body, relies on you getting plenty of restful deep sleep each night so it can carry out some repair and maintenance work. If you’re not giving your skin the time it needs to get this essential work done, then it may result in skin that appears duller and is more susceptible to inflammation.
It’s also important to realise that sleep deprivation often has a knock-on effect on your mood and blood sugar levels. If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, it can make you more prone to stress, which, as I’ve discussed, can be bad news for your complexion. Sleep deprivation can also influence your levels of the hormone ghrelin, the hunger hormone, making you crave more sugary, carb-heavy foods!
Exercise though, helps to promote healthy sleep patterns in a number of ways – it lowers your stress levels, promotes healthy blood sugar levels and tires your body. All of these factors can make it that bit easier for you to nod off at night! Just make sure that you’re not exercising too close to your bedtime though – keep those gym sessions to during the day for the best results.
5 – Exercise helps to fight visceral fat!
Okay, it’s not exactly a secret that most gym-goers are motivated by the promise of leaner muscles and trimmer waistlines. While I’m all for improving fitness, there’s only really one type of fat I’m interested in fighting – visceral fat!
What is visceral fat? Well, unlike subcutaneous fat, the fat you store just under your skin, visceral fat isn’t that visible. Instead, it’s stored around a number of your internal organs in your abdominal cavity. Unfortunately, high amounts of visceral fat have been linked with insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, neither of which are good news for your skin.
Fortunately, regular exercise is known to help your body to burn visceral fat more effectively, helping to reduce your susceptible health problems such as diabetes. However, most people exercising at the gym or taking part in high-intensity workouts could be making their bodies more vulnerable to inflammation which definitely WON’T help to get rid of visceral fat. Instead, consistent low impact exercise is the name of the game – think swimming, tai-chi, mindful stretching, pilates and good old-fashioned walking!
6 - Exercise encourages healthy immune function!
Surprisingly, working-out may help to support a healthy immune system! Several studies have found that regular exercise helps to encourage immune function, even reducing the number of colds you may suffer from.1 One study in particular, found that the number of T-cells in 65 year old participants was as high as most people in their 30s after they had engaged in regular exercise!
Impressive results but how does warding off a sniffle or flu affect your skin? Well, your immune system is important for practically every area of your body. Your skin is no exception – you need a strong immune system to ward off the pathogens and bacterial infections that routinely try to penetrate your epidermis.
Can exercise harm your skin?
All of these benefits sound amazing but, understandably, if you suffer from a skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, the prospect of hitting the gym is probably a bit daunting. After all, these are extremely sensitive conditions and even the most miniscule trigger can sometimes cause a full on flare-up.
Since exercise often involves a degree of sweat and gets your blood pumping you might be feeling a bit cautious – why workout if it’s just going to make things worse? That’s why, as a continuation to this blog, the next issue I’m going to be taking a look at how to work-out properly if you suffer from a skin condition!