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Does Exercise Help Acne?
We get acne from the overproduction of ‘sebum’ an oily substance secreted by the skin glands. Bacteria thrive easily on sebum, and trigger inflammatory reactions in the skin, causing reddish pustules – acne.
How Does Exercise help Acne?
• Exercise has been known to help acne by regulating the body’s balance of hormones like testosterone that cause excessive sebum production. Another hormone called ‘cortisol’, which is secreted by the adrenal gland just above the kidney, plays an important part in producing acne. Cortisol is popularly called the “stress hormone”, because when you are stressed out, starving or sleep-deprived, more of cortisol is produced. High cortisol levels are linked with acne-prone skin.
• A vigorous but controlled exercise session can enhance blood circulation and better distribute the nutrients we ingest from our daily diet, including getting our skin the nutrients it needs.
• Sweat unclogs the pores as it leaves the body, cleaning out dirt buildup. Oil and germs in the pores have less of a chance to cause inflammation and acne with this constant flushing out.
• Regular exercise helps increase the blood flow to the face and takes away waste such as free radicals from the working cells in the skin. By bringing fresh oxygen-rich blood to the skin and activating sweat glands, the toxins get flushed out of the body and a natural glow exudes. Also, exercising releases ‘endorphins’ which bring feelings of positivity, happiness and overall well-being. Endorphins counter the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, and in effect, skin stays healthier.
• On the holistic side, exercise will build strength and improve the functioning of your immune system to help fight germs that cause acne. It will also help to easily metabolize spicy, hot or oily foods we occasionally consume, so that they do not harm the skin’s natural balance.
So what kind of exercise helps acne?
• Ideally, lower intensity exercises that assist in diminishing cortisol levels and regulating testosterone production would help acne. However, high-intensity exercises or exceedingly long sessions of intense physical strain, can actually increase cortisol production by pushing the body into stress mode.
• The best exercises for acne are: yoga, swimming, cycling, rowing, jogging, swimming, skipping, brisk walking, slow running, and team sports. Swimming in non-chlorinated pools is a great way to exercise your body and keep skin cool at the same time. In short, we notice that it is the cardio exercises that help us where acne is concerned.
• Though sufficient scientific evidence is lacking, fitness experts believe that acne-sufferers should avoid too much weight training. Weight training, though extremely useful for building strength and muscle tone, tends to increase testosterone levels. This is not desirable while you are attempting to control acne flare-ups because testosterone pumps up sebum production and may trigger an onset of skin breakouts. But strength training helps the body with metabolism long after the exercise is over. Therefore, it would be best to combine various types of exercises to reap benefits from all of them.
Tips While Exercising
• Don’t wear tight clothing around an area prone to acne. For instance, if you tend to get it on your chest or back, wear a loose fitting t-shirt made of breathable cotton. Sweat trapped against skin attracts grime and bacteria.
• If you use a headband to keep hair off the face, you may get acne around your hairline on the forehead. Wear a headband made of cotton instead of the synthetic fabric ones commonly sold by fitness apparel brands. Better still, tie your hair into a high ponytail and pin up loose hair with clips.
• Before beginning your workout, wash your face and neck area with a face cleanser containing tea tree extract to unclog pores for sweat to flow freely and to remove bacteria that’s already on the skin. If you suffer from acne on the back or chest, shower before working out.
• One important thing to remember during exercise is to drink plenty of water. As you try to sweat out toxins and impurities and redistribute hormones through the body, you need ample water to play the balancing act. The cycle of water consumption and sweat flushing is interrelated.
• If your chosen form of exercise is running or outdoor sports, make sure you avoid peak sunlight hours and wear sunscreen of adequate SPF content.
• Use clean cotton sweat cloths to wipe yourself with and wash them daily with antimicrobial detergents.
• Don’t wear makeup to the gym as it can clog pores. Shower after exercising and wash away sweat and grime with antibacterial soap. Use a gentle exfoliant on your face from time to time.
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