What motivates you to exercise? In my case, my jeans are feeling snug these days and I do not like how sluggish I feel because of the extra 10 pounds (okay, 15) I am carrying around. It’s not just the number on the scale, but also the fact that when I look and feel more toned, I feel better about myself and I feel more attractive to my mate. Aside from the obvious health benefits of exercise, there is another reward when you regularly work up a sweat: healthy skin.
That post work-out glow? It comes from aerobic exercise which gets the heart pumping and delivering a blast of oxygenated blood to the skin.
Regular workouts also helps maintain healthy levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol. According to Noëlle S. Sherber, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Baltimore, Maryland. “Elevated cortisol levels are linked to increased sebum production, which means more acne breakouts,” she says. Too much cortisol can also cause the collagen in the skin to break down, Sherber says, which can increase wrinkles and sagging. “Exercise actually supports the production of collagen,” says Amy Dixon, a Los Angeles–based exercise physiologist and celebrity trainer. “The boost in this protein helps to keep your skin firm, supple, and elastic.”
Regular exercise boosts circulation. “It nourishes your skin, bringing more blood flow and oxygen to it,” says Mauro C. Romita, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Ajune Center for Beauty Synergy in New York City. “This will help draw toxins out of the body.” Plus, all that sweating cleans out the pores of congested skin. “Working out corrects the hormonal imbalance that can cause adult acne,” Romita says.
To reap the beneficial skin effects of working out, a few extra steps are required, Sherber warns. “If you're acne prone, make sure to keep gentle, fragrance-free cleansing wipes in your gym bag.” Be sure to cleanse your face and other areas that tend to break out immediately after exercising, she says. “For eczema, wear fabrics that wick perspiration away from the skin, since the wet-dry-wet-dry cycle will dry out your skin and provoke flare-ups,” Sherber says. And above all, avoid exercising with makeup on your face.
What’s the best type of exercise for your skin? Any activity that improves circulation and reduces stress, it’s all good. Mixing up workouts to keep you interested and motivated is helpful. If you are new to exercise, a good place to start is a brisk 30 minute walk, 3 times per week. Or change up one of those walks for a bike ride or a hike someplace inspiring outdoors. Wisconsin has really wonderful State Parks, and I love to take my dogs out on a day hike. Start somewhere, start today. I have a 20 minute workout I have been doing for the last 5 years that I do when I can’t get to the gym, or the days when I just do not feel like exercising, and I swear by it. I will post it for you later this week.
Do you have an exercise tip or trick to share with us? What keeps you motivated?