Exercise versus your skin

Sweating may not be so bad after all…

If you’ve signed up for the London Marathon this year, then by now you’ll be well and truly in the swing of things training-wise. Or maybe you’ve just ramped up your exercise regime this year? Props to you for that too. This does raise the question though, for both distance runners and all active people that are keeping fit, does all of this exercise have an impact on the look and feel of our skin?

In a word, yes. Cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling and aerobics pump oxygen-rich blood around our bodies and cause our blood vessels to dilate, giving skin a plumped, healthy glow.

While sweating may not make you feel gorgeous in the short term, shedding liquid in this way flushes surface dirt from pores and detoxifying it, while also helping to protect our complexions from bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. It does this by treating the skin with a dose of Dermcidin, a natural antibiotic, potentially preventing breakouts or reactions.


That being said, certain easily aggravated skin conditions can be triggered by intensive activity.

Urticaria, for example, often breaks out when the body overheats, and Rosacea can appear worse when blood flow increases.

Rosacea is also notoriously worsened by exposure to sunlight, so if you’re exercising outdoors be sure to keep your cheeks in the shade by wearing a cap.

In the cases of these conditions, lower impact activities like yoga may be more suitable – and with its emphasis on relaxation, yoga is also the ideal exercise for stress-related condition like Acne, Eczema and Psoriasis.

Proven to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone that triggers the production of sebum, yoga may prevent the breakouts which more intensive exercise can often cause.

However, if you do have combination skin and are more marathon-runner than meditator, follow these simple rules to best maintain a clear complexion:

  1. Never wear make-up when working out – it mixes with sweat and can blocks pores, making those breakouts much more likely.
  2.  Always shower after exercising. Physical activity encourages cell renewal throughout the body, which is a good thing providing the excess dead cells are washed away, keeping pores clear and revealing the fresher skin underneath.
  3.  Avoid tight fitting clothes or head wear – which can cause Acne Mechanica, a form of acne caused by heat or constant pressure. Opt for loose-fitting cotton clothes instead, which will also stop the skin from suffocating or overheating.

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