The following statement is so commonly stated that you are probably tired of hearing it, but it is absolutely true and bears repeating: Exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy and strong body throughout your life. And seeing as skin is the largest organ of the body, it is to be expected that regular and balanced exercise promotes strong and healthy skin as we age. In this post, we’ll break down the scientific benefits of exercise and the long-term effects it can provide for our skin’s health (1).
- Increased Blood Flow: When we exercise, it increases blood flow and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the skin, which in turn reduces puffiness and the appearance of bloating. The increased skin oxygenation, improves the function and longevity of skin cells. Happy cells = less premature aging. These benefits are observed at the molecular level through their effect on the functioning of the mitochondria, our cellular powerhouse (think of it as our cells’ battery packs) (1,2).
- Regulation of Mitochondrial Function: Let’s take it back at 6th grade science class for a moment— remember Mitochondria? You may remember learning that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. Well, let’s get to know Mitochondria a bit better. The proper functioning of this organelle is vital for the overall health of our body, the skin included. ATP is the cellular unit of energy, equivalent to the charge in your battery, that is synthesized by the mitochondria. It works towards repairing skin damage as well as maintaining collagen levels and elastin fibers that are important for maintaining the skin’s integrity (1,3).
- Benefits of Sweat: Another not-so-obvious benefit exercise has on our skin? Sweating. Yes, believe it or not, sweating is good for your skin. When we sweat, our system is simultaneously flushing out toxins, including those coming from our skin. Studies have also shown that sweat contains many moisturizing factors which increase hydration levels on the skin surface. It’s even been recommended that those genetically prone to dry skin try working up a sweat through exercising to prevent increased water loss and combat dehydrated skin. Just remember that the longer sweat stays on the skin, the more likely it can cause irritation and inflammation, so be sure to wash your skin thoroughly when you are finished with your exercise routine, even if it’s just a quick splash of water.
To Wrap it all Up:
While genetics, UV protection, and a good skincare routine are all important to the long-term maintenance of skin health, it is also important to keep in mind that exercise has substantial benefits for the overall integrity of our health and skin. Scientific advancements towards the identification of novel anti-aging targets are both important and exciting, but regular exercise might very well be one of most truly impactful lifestyle choices for optimal aging (1).
- Khmaladze I, Leonardi M, Fabre S, Messaraa C, Mavon A. The Skin Interactome: A Holistic “Genome-Microbiome-Exposome” Approach to Understand and Modulate Skin Health and Aging. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:1021-1040
- Trinity, J. D., Broxterman, R. M., & Richardson, R. S. (2016). Regulation of exercise blood flow: Role of free radicals. Free radical biology & medicine, 98, 90–102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2016.01.017
- Crane, J. D., MacNeil, L. G., Lally, J. S., Ford, R. J., Bujak, A. L., Brar, I. K., Kemp, B. E., Raha, S., Steinberg, G. R., & Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2015). Exercise-stimulated interleukin-15 is controlled by AMPK and regulates skin metabolism and aging. Aging cell, 14(4), 625–634. https://doi.org/10.1111/acel.12341
- Shiohara, T., Sato, Y., Komatsu, Y., Ushigome, Y., & Mizukawa, Y. (2016). Sweat as an Efficient Natural Moisturizer. Current problems in dermatology, 51, 30–41. https://doi.org/10.1159/000446756
- Wang, S., Zhang, G., Meng, H. and Li, L. (2013), Effect of Exercise‐induced Sweating on facial sebum, stratum corneum hydration, and skin surface pH in normal population. Skin Res Technol, 19: e312-e317.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0846.2012.00645.x
Article By: Nazli Azodi