Giving Your Skin a Good Workout

Sue Chung Health Guide
  • Exercise-it does a body good. We all know it, even when our lives and schedules get the better of us. A good cardiovascular workout helps us reduce the risk of a variety of diseases and allows us to maintain a healthy weight and a strong heart, but many doctors also believe that vigorous exercise also boosts the healthy appearance of skin.


    So how does a sweat session help us get glowing skin and how much exercise is enough? First, let's look at the three key factors that improve the look of your skin after exercise: Pores, circulation, hydration, and lowered stress levels.


    While we stress over the visibility of pores, we often overlook the fact they fill a crucial role in the health and maintenance of our skin. Sweat helps cool our bodies down after exercise, but it also helps remove sebum and bacteria from our pores.

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    Our bodies respond in a variety of ways when we get on that treadmill or take a brisk walk. The heart pumps harder and blood flows faster through our bodies. The circulatory system, made up of both the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, controls the delivery of nutrients to cells as well as the removal of toxins from cells. That flush we get from exercising not only cools our bodies down but also delivers vital stores of oxygen to our skin cells.


    Proper hydration is another element that aids in the delivery of nutrients and the removal of toxins from cells. It may seem difficult (or even torturous) to gulp down the recommended 8-12 cups of water daily, but exercise encourages thirst. An appropriate level of water intake keeps our bodies running optimally, increasing the function of the circulatory system.


    In addition, a stronger, more efficient circulatory system will lower blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, the most recent estimates show that 1 out of every 3 American adults suffers from hypertension, or high blood pressure. Hypertension is especially on the rise in American women and studies performed by the American College of Sports Medicine demonstrate that exercise is one of the quickest ways to reduce hypertension.


    High blood pressure is also often linked to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that we produce when under stress. In turn, sustained periods of stress also promote the release of testosterone-associated hormones from our adrenal glands. These hormones are to blame for many types of acne flare-ups, so reducing our levels of stress can offer dramatic improvement in the clarity of skin.


    So how much is enough? If your treadmill is gathering dust or you gave up exercising years ago, aim for small goals. Thirty minutes of moderate activity a few times a week is better than nothing, according to fitness experts. "Moderate" activity can include a brisk walk or raking leaves if jogging seems too intimidating at first. You can slowly begin to build on this in terms of frequency and intensity.


    If you already exercise on an irregular basis, try to incorporate workouts more steadily into your schedule. The most important thing to note, however, is not to stress about accomplishing marathon sweat sessions. Instead, make a conscious effort to move more and get your heart rate up. Even ten or fifteen minutes of cardiovascular activity is better than nothing.


Published On: February 14, 2008