Exercise is healthy (if performed in adequate levels according to your age and training)... obviously. It's everywhere we look and it's been burned into our brains that regular physical activity is beneficial to us, which is presumably why we can't escape the 24 Hour Fitness' and Orange Theory's around every corner. Whether you're using exercise to fit into those old jeans from your hay day, to boost your mood, or (for all my go-getters out there) to work your way up to a marathon, we're about to check off another box on your gym motivation list. Yup, you guessed it... it's your skin health!
But before we dive into the more superficial benefits, let me remind you of the many other incredible reasons that exercise will never go out of style. Everyone knows that a good round of cardio is good for the heart (duh-"cardio"). Not only are the endorphins going to decrease your stress, but they also have significant effects on your longevity.
One notable study, which compared older people who exercised consistently for most of their lives to similarly aged people, showed that the more active group maintained the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a much younger population... meaning that they effectively defied some key components of aging! (1). In fact, this age defiance has even been shown on a cellular level, with studies indicating that exercise of any type slows the process of telomere shortening, and as we know from a previous post, the length of telomeres in cells provides a signal of the cell's "biological age" (how old the cell behaves) (2). And that's not even to mention that long term physical activity actually decrease mortality rates, especially related to cardiovascular disease and cancer (3)... and we could all use a little good joo-joo in those departments.
But, if I haven't convinced you to hit the gym yet, let's discuss the effect that exercising has on your skin. Although after a sweaty workout, you may feel like you're not doing your skin many favors, the same mechanisms that provide cardiovascular benefits from exercise also work to promote a youthful looking complexion. That's because, according to dermatologist, Ellen Marmus, MD, the blood travelling to your face during a workout is helping to transport oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, while also helping to expel toxins, such as free radicals. So instead of cringing at your flushed face from the gym, embrace the increased circulation from exercise as it's actually help keep your skin healthy and vibrant. And, the next time you think about visiting your esthetician for a detox facial, it might be a better idea to exercise those toxins away and "cleanse your skin from the inside" (4).
Now that we've covered many of the reasons that exercising is healthy, let me ease your mind, and tell you that these benefits do not solely come from the gym. If you're like most of us, getting to the gym can be a time suck and getting the motivation to get there usually sucks up most of that time. However, incorporating physical activity into your life could be as simple as walking or biking to work, taking the stairs, and walking your dog. You don't have to be a gym junkie to reap the benefits above; just be conscious about getting your heart rate up throughout the day and maybe hit a pilates class to make up for your Monday blues.
As long as you're doing some time of exercise in a long-term manner and you feel your cheeks flushed and sweaty, you are doing wonders for your skin and your overall health. Don't be afraid of challenging yourself to bring that heartbeat up and stay tuned for the next tips on healthy aging.