We know exercise is important for longevity, health and weight control. But have you ever considered the potential benefits that moving your body provides for the skin?
I'm not talking about facial exercises or facial yoga that’s supposed to lift the skin by building the subcutaneous muscles. I’m talking about anything you do that gets your blood pumping. Like a good old-fashioned walk around the block, strength training, cycling, yoga...
Exercise is one of the best medicines for prevention of skin aging and, in some cases reverse loss of elasticity, sagging, drooping and loose skin.
Your skin is made up of three main layers. Around 40 years of age the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum, starts to thicken and becomes dull, coarse, flaky and dense. The middle layer, the epidermis, loses collagen and the deeper dermal layer or dermis starts to thin. The good news is that if you exercise the outer layer doesn’t thicken as early and the inner layer doesn’t become thinner.
The protein that’s responsible for the age-related skin changes are called are myokines. They’re released by the muscles and enter the blood. They increase during and after exercise. So, the more myokines you provide to your skin, the younger the skin stays.
Increased collagen production
When you get moving, the tiny capillaries in your skin dilate which means more nutrient-rich blood flow to the skin. These nutrients help collagen-producing cells called fibroblasts work more efficiently. And more collagen means plumper skin that resists sagging. Plus, increased blood flow gives you a healthy, rosy glow that can last all day, with increased skin cell regeneration.
You might already know that people who exercise more, sleep better, which is an incredible benefit on its own as well as translating to younger-looking skin. At night, while your body rests, natural healing processes are activated – including regenerating your skin's natural collagen and elastin. Two of the main molecules that are essential in the fight against gravity. Better sleep means brighter, smoother skin under the eye are that can take years off your appearance.
Increased circulation that results from exercise not only carries nutrients to the skin, it assists with detoxification by the process of transpiration and good old sweating so that the body can eliminate toxins. By increasing blood flow to your liver, you increase its capacity to detoxify and remove waste. The cleaner your blood means fewer environmental toxins getting to your skin resulting in skin that stays firmer and tighter over time.
Deep cleaning pores
Clogged and blocked pores create acne and blackheads but they also can contribute to aging, droopy skin. Impurities can stretch the pores and drag the skin southward resulting in less luminosity in the texture and sagging. Sweat assists with cleaning the pores by pushing a build up of oil, dirt and bacteria to the surface of the skin so that it can then be washed away.
Not only does constant stress feel draining and life-sucking, it's physically detrimental to your skin. Stress leads to the production of cortisol, a hormone that blocks collagen production. Over time, excessive stress can cause your skin to actually lose its internal structure and elasticity. People who engage in regular exercise generally have much lower cortisol levels than their sedentary counterparts.
A study published in 2008 by scientists from Michigan State University found that cortisol levels drop by as much as 18.5% after an intense workout. Exercising regularly will help you feel more relaxed and can also protect your skin from premature thinning and sagging.
Whether it’s a daily trip to the gym, or your garage gym (like me), the best thing you can do for your skin is exercise regularly to get your blood pumping.
And then follow up with a good cleansing routine!