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The Science of Exercise and Skin Health

Posted July 2020 by Biodermis

It’s well understood by doctors and scientists today that exercise is one of the best things that you can do to keep your body strong and healthy. Getting enough exercise wasn’t much of a problem in the past, before technology allowed us to live more sedentary lifestyles. Many people in the world today have desk jobs and use a car for transportation, so it is sometimes difficult to fit exercise into their daily lives. However, it's crucial for our health that we exercise daily. Exercise is good for all aspects of our bodies. It increases physical strength, boosts mental clarity, and promotes healthy skin.

In this article, we will explore in greater detail the benefits of exercise and how it can promote strong, healthy skin.

How does exercise benefit skin health

Understanding the effects of exercise on our cells

If we are to understand the mechanisms at work in our skin when we exercise, we have to go all the way down to the cellular level. All cells have an organelle called the mitochondria, which is responsible for generating ATP that powers the cell’s functions. ATP is required to repair cell damage within the skin and to help maintain the skin’s integrity with collagen and elastin fibers. When we age, however, our cells begin to slow down in their production of ATP. When this happens, the integrity of our skin will start to break down and show common signs of aging—wrinkles, sagging, and fine lines. So far, neither scientists nor doctors have developed a medicine to increase the production of mitochondria.

But the solution may be a lot simpler than developing new technology to slow down the signs of aging and the answer lies in daily exercise. Exercise has been shown to reverse changes in mitochondria found in our muscles and skin. In one study, scientists looked at the muscle fibers of older males who had been longtime cyclists and found little difference between their muscles and the muscles of younger men. While this study focuses on muscles, it may give insight into what happens to our skin when we get enough exercise. It is thought that because exercise benefits the mitochondria in our muscles, it may also benefit the mitochondria in our skin. Studies do confirm this and show that the skin of athletes is healthier than people who live sedentary lifestyles. In particular, these studies showed that the dermis (middle layer of skin) is thicker in active people. A healthy dermis contributes to the overall integrity of the skin and reduces the risk of fine lines and wrinkles.

Other skin related benefits of exercising

The immediate benefits of working out include increased blood flow and lymph flow to the skin, which helps with eye puffiness. However, exercise can also have many indirect benefits for the skin as well. Exercise promotes better sleep, which in turn can decrease under eye circles and bags under the eyes. In addition to better sleep, exercising regularly makes a person happier through the production of endorphins. Endorphins are the feel-good hormone that you get after a good workout. Endorphin receptors are found all over the body, including in the skin. Doctors don’t fully understand how endorphins affect skin cells but it is generally agreed to be highly beneficial. Exercise has also been shown to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. An increase in cortisol levels is associated with the breakdown of collagen and other essential structural proteins in the skin.


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