Can Exercise Harm Your Skin? Q&A

can exercise harm your skin

With the summer heat dissipating, you might be more tempted to revamp your exercise routine. Running outdoors can be blissful when the cool, crisp breezes are rushing against your skin. But can exercise harm your skin? Here's some revealing information about exercise and skin health.

My face turns bright red when I exercise. Is that bad for my skin?

If your skin gets more flushed than dewy when you do cardio, that's perfectly fine. What is happening is that your blood vessels are dilating in order to let go of some heat. That makes the surface of your skin appear red.

Will exercise exacerbate my skin condition?

The extra blood that rushes to your face can make some skin conditions worse. Rosacea can appear even redder after exercising. Try to keep cool by splashing yourself with water periodically. In fact, exercising can also reduce stress levels and decrease inflammation. That can actually help relieve chronic skin problems. Just make sure that you change out of your exercise clothes and shower right away to remove any bacteria that has been pressed up against your skin.

Will exercising help me age faster or slower?

Exercise can help prevent the signs of aging. All of that blood that's rushing to your face is bringing oxygen and nutrients to skin cells. This helps the skin renew itself. It also helps boost collagen production, helping your skin stay plump instead of saggy. Sweat also helps your body release toxins.

Will sweat cause breakouts?

Sweat is sterile, so it won't add any bacteria to your skin on its own. However, the warm, moist environment that's created when you sweat can make bacteria that's already there grow. Wear breathable clothing while you work out, and don't wear makeup to the gym.

Will wearing sunscreen while I exercise clog my pores?

This depends on your skin and the sunscreen. If you're prone to breakouts, look for non-comedogenic sunscreen. This type of sunscreen won't clog pores. However, sensitivity to chemical ingredients can also cause skin reactions.

So are you supposed to slather on some zinc and clog your pores, or should you avoid clogged pores and go with chemical sunscreen? You don't have to do either one.

Newer formulations, like this sunscreen oil from Supergoop! are lightweight and are designed to improve your skin's health without making you break out. Plus, if you wear sun protective clothing on your body, you can spend less money (and time) on sunscreen.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is good for your skin. It delivers oxygen and nutrients that help your skin replenish itself and stay healthy. Just don't go crazy with weight loss only to pack on the pounds again. If you're dramatically losing and gaining weight, exercise can harm your skin, leaving it saggy.

In addition, make sure that you protect your skin with sun protective clothing and/or lotion if you're exercising outdoors. UV radiation can damage your skin even in the dead of winter.

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