It’s more than just that post-run glow. A long sweaty run or big day at the gym could be the answer to all of your persistent acne woes. Sure, working out probably isn’t the first thing you think of when trying to get your acne under control- eliminating certain sugary foods? Yeah! Testing out expensive new skincare? Of course! But exercise? Not so much.
When you look at the big picture, exercise helps to reduce overall stress and bodily inflammation. As we all well aware by this point, acne is an inflammatory disease and stress can trigger acne breakouts-making matters worse. This means the best way to fight acne is by making your body the least inflamed (and least stressed) as possible. All that being said, here are the top 5 ways that exercise helps acne:
1. Lowering Cortisol
Cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) works on the testosterone pathways, so one of the most common things we can physically see in direct response to raising cortisol is acne. If cortisol levels remain high for a prolonged period of time, you remain in a chronically stressed, and chronically inflamed state. Regular exercise helps to decrease and manage the overall amount of cortisol in your blood stream. In the simplest terms possible, working out helps acne because less stress=less acne.
2. Boosting Your Immune System
Exercise helps to boost your immune system by flushing out bacteria of the lungs and airways. Exercise also causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. White blood cells (WBC) are apart of the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. A stronger immune system will help your body to function properly and fight against bacteria, viruses, and even acne! White blood cells are responsible for balancing hormones and eliminating acne causing bacteria. This may also be why Zinc works to effectively treat acne for many people, because it boosts your immune system and helps white blood cells function properly.
3. Raises Serotonin
Serotonin is that “feel good” hormone and when you’re breaking out- you’re probably lacking it a little, and not feeling the best. Seratonin is a chemical in your brain that helps to send messages throughout the nervous system, including regulating mood, appetite, and the sleep/wake cycle. Working out helps to naturally raise serotonin levels. If you’re feeling good about yourself, chances are you’ll soon start feeling better about your acne too!
4. Decreases Inflammation
One of the best ways to rid your body of inflammation, besides eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, is by working out on a consistent basis! Just 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise, including brisk walking, is enough to reduce the body’s inflammation response. Acne is an inflammatory skin disease, and can be worsened if your body remains in a chronically inflamed state. Lower inflammation levels throughout your body = less inflamed acne.
5. Increases Blood Cell Circulation
When your workout your blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to your cells while it removes waste. Blood circulation not only helps improve muscle function, but is vital for healthy skin- especially when it comes to your face. Aerobic exercise helps to increase both your heart rate and blood movement or circulation. Good circulation paired with blood vessels dilating in your face (and rest of body) is what gives you that post workout glow and ultimately leads to a clearer complexion.
Don’t forget! The workout matters, try to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, or 3 hours a week to see maximum results! Everyday doesn’t need to be 100%, aim for two days where you go at maximum effort and three or four where you give moderate effort. Try sticking to a consistent routine or part of your day to make it an easy habit!