For those of you who know me, you know that I love dancing – it gives a feeling of release, relaxation, happiness and at the same time I know it’s great for my muscles and for developing strength and coordination. All that in something so simple!
So what’s really going on inside when we exercise?
What happens to our skin when we exercise?
Why does is it generate feelings of calm and happiness (well, most of the time) and also leave you feeling good afterwards?
Much of the answer lies in hormones, balance and circulation.
Dance, like most moderate exercise, gets the heart pumping and improves circulation. Increased blood flow to the skin helps deliver vital nutrients and oxygen which is great for rejuvenation and detoxification. When we exercise our hormones react to adjust the body and different exercises promote different hormone release.
Weight bearing or lifting exercises increase testosterone, which in turn increases protein building and this helps keep the skin thick, tight, elastic and strong.
If you push the body too much, however, you get an overproduction of these hormones, which in turn can have negative effects.
Too much testosterone causes you to break out in acne and could affect your normal menstrual cycle, affecting fertility and female health.
Cortisol is also produced during periods of prolonged exercise (e.g. long distance running) so that the body can maintain blood glucose to fuel the muscles.
A little stress to the body is good as it encourages our cells to regenerate and keep us strong and healthy. However, too much cortisol can have a deleterious effect on the body, causing wear and tear, creating more wrinkles, sensitive skin and aches & pains.
Hence the importance of rest and repair following a sprint of exercise.
We also get to release endorphins when we exercise – the feel good chemicals that help reduce stress, reduce anxiety, boost self esteem and improve sleep. In fact exercise is a known antidote to mild depression. Lots of exercises we can do involve social interaction, and this is also to reduce anxiety – involving yourself in group activities can have positive psychological and physical benefits, all of which are reflected in your skin and general health.
Exercise is a great way to improve mental capacity, whilst improving muscle tone and decreasing body fat.
Yoga and pilates teaches us to breathe and centre, whilst working on core muscle groups. These are great exercises particularly for inflammed skin e.g. acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Another exercise I love is rock climbing because it challenges me mentally as well as improving my core strength and tone. If you can get outside and take exercise, all the better because this interaction with nature has the effect of calming the mind.
What if you suffer from skin problems? Can exercise make them worse?
Some skin conditions, such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis can be affected by exercise….
Increased skin flushing during exercise and increased body temperature can cause flare ups for rosacea sufferers. Try exercising in a cooler environment, such as swimming. If the chlorine irritates the skin, be sure to shower immediately afterwards and use a good moisturiser since chlorine can dry the skin. Sweat can also irritate the skin after strenuous activity – so again try to exercise in a cooler environment to reduce the levels of sweat.
If you suffer from acne, keep your skin free of any lotions or potions while you’re exercising. After sweating, make sure you clean your skin with a cleanser with salicylic acid and use your favourite anti-acne serum afterwards. If you can, avoid putting makeup straightaway. Allow your skin to cool down and apply your makeup only when you go to work (if you’re exercising in the morning).
Don’t forget that if you are exercising outside you need to use sun protection, preferably one that is sweat and water proof!So the moral of the story is exercise is good for so many reasons but make sure you take the necessary care before and after to ensure the rest and repair your skin and body needs. It will make the difference between rejuvenation and regeneration as oppose to wear & tear and premature aging.
Over to you.Time to stretch!!! Would love to hear what your favourite exercise is and how you rest and repair afterwards?
Until the next blog, move and enjoy it!