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Why working out is good – and bad – for your skin

Why working out is good – and bad – for your skin

Exercise can offer a wide range of health benefits, not least helping to keep weight under control and benefiting mental wellbeing. Raising your heart rate can be good for your skin, too, but there are some drawbacks that you need to consider if you’re new to working out.


PRO: Exercise makes you look younger

Exercising on a regular basis is a great way to improve the appearance and quality of your skin, making you look younger in the process. When you’re working out, your heart rate will increase and your blood will pump around your body faster, which delivers important oxygen and nutrients to your skin – particularly on your face. Over time, this helps to keep your skin looking its best, boosts collagen production, and encourages the production of new cells.

Another benefit of exercising is sweating. When sweat leaves your skin, it’ll help to clear out your pores, though you must cleanse your skin before working out to remove anything that could clog or block the pores. That means working out makeup-free and without moisturiser.


CON: You can clog your pores

According to a 2019 YouGov poll, one in six women wears makeup when they’re working out in public or at the gym. But exercising in a full face of makeup is bad news for your skin – it can slow or stop the release of sweat, which will result in blemishes. The best way to work out is to remove your makeup and use a gentle cleanser before and after you’ve finished to A) remove makeup and impurities pre-workout and B) remove sweat post-workout.


PRO: Working out can give you a natural “glow”

Envious of your friends’ natural glow? Because working out increases the blood flow and promotes circulation in the skin, it’s common to enjoy a post-workout glow for a few hours – even once you’ve showered and got changed for an evening out with your partner. The endorphins released during exercise can also help you feel great; your face will therefore relax and you’ll look happy and confident. Key takeaway: work out before your next date!


CON: Sun damage is a concern

If you’re the sort of person who prefers to work out in the local park rather than running on a treadmill in a stuffy gym, you’re not alone. But it’s important to mention the potential dangers of exercising outdoors: your skin is more vulnerable to harmful UV rays. Before you go for a jog around the neighbourhood, apply a good sunscreen to your face, even if it doesn’t look particularly sunny. We recommend an SPF of at least 30, reapplying it throughout the day.

Worried about sunscreen clogging your pores when you’re working out? Look for creams that are oil-free and water-resistant, and you’ll not have to worry when you’re on the go.


PRO: Exercise can speed up weight loss

We all know that a good workout regime can speed up the weight loss process, which is great if you’re carrying some extra pounds. The NHS recommends losing 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) each week by sticking to a daily calorie allowance – if you lose weight too quickly, it’s likely that you’ll “rebound” or “yo-yo diet”, or suffer from conditions such as loose, saggy skin.

See also: How to lose weight without making yourself look older


CON: Exercise can cause skin rashes

Depending on the way you work out, you might suffer from chafing or rashes when you’re exercising. The good news is that it’s perfectly common, but the bad news is that it can be painful and unsightly. Chafing happens as a result of friction or moisture collecting in folds on your skin, and it can become difficult to exercise if untreated. The best way to avoid these chafes is to use an antiperspirant to avoid excess sweating, and wear comfortable clothes in areas where chafing is more likely – under the breasts, your bum, and your inner thighs.


PRO: Exercise relieves stress

Exercise is about much more than aerobic capacity and the size of our muscles; it’s about giving our mental health some TLC! Exercising regularly will make you more energetic at work and at home, sleep better, have better memory, and feel more relaxed and positive about your life. Exercise is known to have a significant impact on those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and ADHD, and the good news is that you don’t need to run a marathon to feel the benefits. Moderate exercise 2-3 times per week is enough to notice a change.

What has this got to do with your skin? You might not think that a positive attitude would impact your face, but reducing stress levels is known to help smoothen out the appearance of imperfections like redness and pigmentation, meaning you’ll look and feel much better.


CON: You need to be wary of skin infections

As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, hygiene is so important. But when we’re at the gym with friends or taking part in an exercise class, it’s easy to assume that everything is safe and clean. That’s not always the case. Common skin infections such as ringworm and impetigo are contracted at gyms every day, and though they’re easy to treat, they’re still no fun! To avoid them, make sure you clean your gym equipment before and after using it, don’t share towels with others, and be cautious of shared environments like steam rooms and showers. Those with particularly sensitive skin should pay close attention to avoid irritations.


There you have it – pros and cons of working out for your skin. Next time you’re heading to the gym or going for a brisk walk on a cold afternoon, give these tips a read and you’ll benefit not only your mental and physical wellbeing but the appearance of your skin, too!

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