How Does Outdoor Exercise Affect Our Skin?

With the summer nearly here, many of us have started to enjoy exercising in the open air. While regular exercise has many health benefits, what’s lesser known, however, are the effects exercise has on our skin.

We’re well-versed in the body benefits of working out – but did you know that regular exercise can also improve the health of your skin? Getting your blood pumping does more than build strength and keep you trim. Read on to find out what benefits are being reaped, if working out can actually help to treat skin conditions and how soon you really need to wash your face after a workout session.

Your Blood Starts Pumping  

Exercise raises your heart rate and increases blood circulation, delivering much-needed oxygen and essential vitamins and nutrients to tired skin cells. The result? Your glowing post-workout skin. Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur says, “Anything that promotes healthy circulation also keeps your skin healthy and vibrant”. Over time, regular exercise promotes efficient circulation, improving your skin’s overall health and extending your glow long after your workout. 

So, a red face is completely normal. Sporting a red and blotchy face after an intense session is a common occurrence that almost all of us have experienced at one point. This redness is caused by the increase in oxygenated blood flow and is a totally normal symptom of a workout. 

You Break A Sweat

So there’s good news, and there’s bad news. The good news is sweating is not, on the whole, terrible for your skin. Believe it or not, sweat does wonders for your skin. Sweating is your skin’s natural way of detoxing, clearing pores of debris and flushing your body of toxins. There are studies showing that the act of sweating not only removes impurities from your skin, but can help protect it from bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus by secreting a rather nifty natural antibiotic called Dermcidin. Now you can rest easy knowing that sweating is only healthy. 

The bad news is, as sweat is released from your pores, any gunk and grime clogging your skin cells go with it. Even though it won’t directly cause breakouts, not washing your face immediately (or as soon as you can) after a workout will cause your skin to oxidize – which can cause blackheads. As skin experts advise, it’s important to cleanse your skin following a workout so debris doesn’t settle onto its surface and seep back into your pores. So, instead of sitting down on the couch straight after a workout, give your face a quick cleanse to ensure you remove all traces of sweat, dirt and impurities, stat.

Your Skin Absorbs Sunrays

Working out outside is a glorious thing, and we’d much rather cycle a loop of the park than stare at someone else’s bobbing butt in the gym. However, while we might love the feeling of the sun on our faces, our faces themselves might not.

We’ve all seen them at the marathon starting lines: the grizzled runners whose dark tans and deep wrinkles speak to many hours running outdoors in the beautiful-but-damaging sunshine. From premature aging to melanoma, the risks of sun damage are well known, so it’s important to get some protection. 

The fix for this one is simple—sunscreen. Skin care experts recommend daily application of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher everywhere the sun hits, not just your face, when playing or exercising outside. Reapply every two hours to protect your skin from sun damage.