We primarily hear about the physical benefits of working out, but working out is also a great way to keep the skin healthy and glowing. Regular exercise increases blood flow, which in turn nourishes the skin with increased oxygen and nutrients. The increased blood flow also supports the flushing of toxins and free radicals from the body. Studies show that exercise helps to reduce stress, as well, which can help to alleviate some of the skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, caused by stress.
However, with all the good that exercise does for our overall well-being, it can also wreak havoc on our skin if we aren’t mindful of how we take care of it when we workout. Sun damage, skin irritation, chafing, and increased acne are all ways that working out can have a not-so-pleasant impact if you don’t take the right precautions. Skin conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis can also be aggravated by exercise. Fortunately, protecting your skin is simple when you follow the following guidance:
- Wear sunscreen and reapply. The biggest stressor on the skin when exercising outside is sun exposure. The sun not only causes aging of the skin but significantly increase your risk of skin cancer. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 20 or greater. If sweat in your eyes is a concern, purchase a sunscreen that’s ph-balanced and won’t burn. Reapply sunscreen frequently to avoid burning after you sweat. If you have acne prone skin, purchase an oil-free or powder-based sunscreen to avoid skin irritation and clogged pores.
- Cover-up as much as possible. It’s understandable that you’d like to stay cool when working out, but if outdoors, where as much clothing as possible to protect your skin from the sun.
- Wear moisture-wicking clothing. Chaffing is an issue for some individuals when they workout, which can lead to rashes. For acne-prone skin, tight-fitting clothing combined with sweat can be a double-whammy. The solution to chafing and acne prevention is to wear loose-fitting clothing or moisture-wick clothing that allows air to circulate and your skin to breath while you’re working out.
- Wash your face before and after exercise. Workout with clean skin that’s make-up free to avoid clogged pores and acne production. Shower immediately after working out (see the last point if you have psoriasis or eczema) and apply a protective moisturizer to support the skin. If you have eczema or psoriasis, you might try applying a non-irritating moisturizer on your body before working out to avoid a flare-up caused by the salt from sweating. If you need help selecting the correct one for your skin, talk to one of our estheticians.
- Use your own towel and mat. Don’t use other people’s towels and workout mats when at the gym. It’s worth it to invest in your own that you can take with you to and from the gym or workout studio. Doing so will help to avoid cross-contamination with other people’s things that could lead to skin irritation and break-outs.
- Workout in a cool environment if you have rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Keeping your skin as cool as possible while exercising can help you avoid irritating rosacea that’s caused from flushing. For psoriasis and eczema, working out in a cool environment can help minimize the need for showering after working out, as excessive showering can make the condition worse.
The benefits of working out definitely outweigh the cons, so don’t let any of the potential negative side effects deter you from getting your exercise on. Use the tips found here to support your skin while working out, and you’ll be able to reap the positive benefits of exercise for your skin, as well as your entire body and mind!
For more information on how to support your skin and keep it in top shape during exercise and the summer months, give Dr. Gerrish and the experts at Gerrish & Associates a call to schedule a consultation. We’re here to help you have healthy, glowing skin.