The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in some challenging life changes for many of us. From transitioning to working at home to teaching kids at the dinner table, life has been a little different for many of us since March. However, the life changes we’re experiencing during the pandemic haven’t all been negative. Many of us are getting to spend a little more quality time with our families. Additionally, people are using their saved commute times to make some positive health changes, including eating better and improving exercise routines. For patients at U.S. Dermatology Partners who struggle with chronic skin conditions, there may be questions about how exercise will impact skin health. According to Dr. Amy McClung of U.S. Dermatology Partners Brodie Lane in Austin, Texas, “Many people think that exercising has a negative effect on their skin. Teens with acne, especially, worry about this. However, with proper care, exercising isn’t bad for your skin at all, in fact, it can be good for your skin health. During annual skin exams with a dermatologist, patients should ask for personalized skincare recommendations to ensure health while exercising.” In this blog, you can learn more about some of the many benefits of exercising for your skin and whole-body health and the steps you can take to keep your skin looking and feeling great.
Top 5 Benefits of Exercise for Skin Health
According to Dr. McClung, “I know that people with sensitive or acne-prone skin and those with chronic conditions like rosacea or psoriasis may be concerned that exercise will only lead to skin issues, but exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. That includes people with skin health concerns. Even though you may need to adjust your skincare routine slightly, exercising regularly has fewer negative effects than positive for your skin’s health.” Below, Dr. McClung walks through just five of the benefits of exercise for skin health.
1 – Improved Blood Flow to Nourish Cells
When we exercise, the blood is pumped through our body, working our heart muscles and circulating blood and oxygen. This increased blood flow during exercise can also result in improved circulation even when you’re not exercising. That means all of our body’s cells, including skin cells, are nourished by this blood flow, leading to improved vitality and more effective cellular repair and replacement.
2 – Improved Blood Flow Removes Toxins from Skin
In addition to more effectively delivering vital nutrients to the body’s cells, improved blood flow also means toxins are removed from the body more efficiently. According to Dr. McClung, “If you think about your bloodstream as a highway for your cell’s essential nutrients and waste removal, exercise increases the highway speed, which means that all the nutrients are getting where they need to be more quickly and waste or toxins are leaving the cells more quickly. So, your cells are getting more of what they need and being less affected by potentially damaging waste by-products and toxins. It’s a win-win for all of our cells, including those that make up our skin.”
3 – Decreased Stress Improves Outcomes for Chronic Skin Conditions
The U.S. Dermatology Partners blog has recently featured posts about the negative impact of stress on skin and hair, especially for those who suffer from chronic skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Stress triggers numerous physiological responses within the body that can cause breakouts, inflammation, and allergic skin reactions. Exercise actually decreases the body’s elevated hormonal and immune responses to stress. This can minimize the risk of chronic skin condition breakouts and flare-ups. It also keeps the immune system healthy and better able to respond if needed to combat skin and whole-body health concerns.
4 – Prevent & Reverse the Signs of Aging
A research study that examined the skin of individuals who were 65 and older revealed some impressive findings. The study took a base sample of the community members’ skin. Then, these individuals were asked to maintain a moderate aerobic exercise routine for three months. When testing the skin after the three month exercise period, the findings were remarkable. The skin of the individuals who were exercising more frequently closely resembled healthy skin for individuals of much younger ages, between 20 and 40. In the past, dermatologists believed that exercising could help to keep skin looking healthier, but this recent research tells us exercising may actually make it possible for you to turn back the clock for your skin. With just thirty minutes of aerobic exercise each day, you may just start looking younger.
Dr. McClung says, “I love telling patients that exercising may help them to look younger! There is more and more scientific evidence supporting the fact that appropriate exercise keeps people looking younger for longer. That being said, if you’re exercising outdoors, it’s important to take steps to protect your skin from sun damage. Additionally, extremely exhausting and overtaxing exercise routines may also have negative effects on the skin’s appearance as well as damaging overall health. You should talk to your physician or a trainer about exercise routines that are appropriate for you.”
5 – Improved Overall Health Places Less Stress on Skin
Finally, we know that our skin is a barrier organ that protects the rest of the body from potential damage. Unfortunately, when the immune system is engaged in keeping the body healthy due to poor health, our skin health will suffer. Regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining good whole-body health, which means your body has the necessary nutrients available to keep skin looking and feeling its best.
Tips for Maintaining Skin Health as You Exercise
According to Dr. McClung, “People with chronic skin conditions like acne or eczema may see a temporary flare-up when they start exercising, but in the long term, these conditions typically improve. I know it can be frustrating to deal with a breakout, but it’s worth it to achieve the long term benefits.” Some of the steps you can take to protect your skin health while maintaining an exercise routine are included below:
- Clean skin – After you exercise, you should take a shower whenever possible. Use gentle skin cleansers on the whole body, and don’t forget to wash your face.
- Dress appropriately – Wear loose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing to avoid issues like chafing, irritation, and rashes.
- Wear sunscreen – If you’re exercising outdoors, it’s essential to apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher (and reapply at least every two hours). Whenever possible, avoid exercising outdoors during the peak sun exposure hours between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Treat skin – If you notice your skin is chafing, rashes appear, or blisters form, make sure you treat these skin conditions right away. Additionally, you should take steps to treat flare-ups or breakouts in chronic skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and acne based on your dermatologist’s recommendations.
Visit U.S. Dermatology Partners for Annual Skin Exams
When you’re ready for an annual skin exam, the U.S. Dermatology Partners team would love to see you. You can schedule an in-office skin exam using our simple online scheduling request form.
If you’re not ready to visit us in the office, especially if you’re in a high-risk patient category, we are continuing to offer online teledermatology services. You can quickly and easily get started with your online visit by filling out our virtual appointment request form or calling the U.S. Dermatology Partners location near you.
Find a location near me