Exercises and skin Health

Multiple studies have demonstrated the positive benefits of exercise on many chronic conditions, such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Depression, Kidney and Lung Diseases just to name a few. However people with sensitive or acne-prone skin and those with chronic conditions like Rosacea or Psoriasis may be concerned that exercise may lead to worsening of skin issues. While attending an International Congress of Dermatology 2021, I have decided to look into the benefits of exercise for skin health and how to minimise flare ups of chronic skin conditions when we start to exercise regularly.

Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. That includes people with skin health concerns. Even though you may need to adjust your skincare routine slightly, exercising regularly has fewer negative than positive effects for skin health.

Some of the benefits are:


1 – Improved Blood Flow to Nourish Cells

When we exercise, the blood is pumped through our body, working our heart muscles and circulating blood and oxygen. This improves our circulation even when we are not exercising.

That means that our skin cells, are nourished by the increased blood flow, leading to improved health of skin cells and more effective repair and replacement, making skin look and feel younger and stronger.

2 – Improved Blood Flow Removes Toxins from Skin

In addition to more effectively delivering vital nutrients to the body’s cells, improved blood flow also means toxins are removed from the body more efficiently, this allows nutrients to get where they are needed faster.

3 – Decreased Stress Improves Outcomes for Chronic Skin Conditions


There have been a number of studies demonstrating a negative impact of stress on skin and hair, especially for those who suffer from chronic skin conditions like Acne, Eczema, Rosacea, and Psoriasis.

Stress triggers numerous physiological responses within the body that can cause breakouts, inflammation, and allergic skin reactions.

Exercise decreases the body’s elevated hormonal and immune responses to stress. It improved mood and decreases anxiety. This can minimise the risk of chronic skin condition breakouts and flare-ups.

It also keeps the immune system healthy and better able to respond to secondary skin infections.

4 – Prevent & Reverse the Signs of Aging

A research study that examined the skin of individuals who were 65 and older revealed some impressive findings. The study took a base sample of the community members’ skin. Then, these individuals were asked to maintain a moderate aerobic exercise routine for three months. When testing the skin after the three month exercise period, the findings were remarkable. The skin of the individuals who were exercising more frequently closely resembled healthy skin for individuals of much younger ages, between 20 and 40.

In the past, Dermatologists believed that exercising could help to keep skin looking healthier, but this recent research tells us exercising may actually make it possible for us to turn back the clock for our skin. With just thirty minutes of aerobic exercise each day, we may just start looking younger!

However if we are exercising outdoors, it’s important to take steps to protect our skin from sun damage. Make sure to wear sunscreen, hat and sunglasses and avoid exercising outside between 9 am and 5 pm in the summer months. Additionally, extremely exhausting and overtaxing exercise routines may also have negative effects on the skin’s appearance as well as damaging overall health. Speak to your Doctor or an Exercise Physiologist about the best individual routine for you.

5 – Improved Overall Health Places Less Stress on Skin

Finally, we know that our skin is a barrier organ that protects the rest of the body from potential damage. Unfortunately, when the immune system is engaged in keeping the body healthy due to poor health, our skin health will suffer.  

Regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining good whole-body health, which means our body has the necessary nutrients and energy available to keep skin looking and feeling its best.


Tips for Maintaining Skin Health as We Exercise

There is some evidence that people with chronic skin conditions like Acne or Eczema may see a temporary flare-up when they start exercising, however in the long term, these conditions typically improve. It can be frustrating to deal with a breakout, but it’s worth it to achieve the long term benefits, and there are steps we can make to decrease the flare ups as well.


  • Clean skin – After you exercise, you should take a shower whenever possible. Use gentle skin cleansers such as QV wash on the whole body, and don’t forget to wash your face. Speak to your Doctor or a Dermatologist about the best face cleanser for your skin.
  • Dress appropriately – Wear loose-fitting, moisture removing clothing to avoid issues like chafing, irritation, and rashes.
  • Wear sunscreen – If exercising outdoors, it’s essential to apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Apply 20 minutes before leaving the house, and reapply at least every two hours. Whenever possible, avoid exercising outdoors during the peak sun exposure hours between 9 am and 5 pm in the summer months.
  • Treat skin – If you notice your skin is chafing, rashes appear, or blisters form, make sure you treat these skin conditions straight away. Additionally, take steps to treat flare-ups or breakouts in chronic skin conditions like Eczema, Rosacea, Psoriasis, and Acne based on your Doctor’s or Dermatologist’s recommendations.
  • Visit your skin cancer doctor for a regular skin checks.
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