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How exercise can help you get glowing more youthful skin

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Does exercise make your skin better?

It’s no secret that exercise is beneficial for our physical and mental health. Exercise helps us to manage our weight, keep our hearts and lungs healthy and lifts a low mood. But did you know that exercise can also reverse the ageing process making us appear more youthful with a definite glow?

You might not think it, when you’re midway through a run or gym session, and you feel like you’ve got a face redder than a beetroot. But once that redness disappears, post-exercise, your skin will thank you for it.

How Does Exercise Benefit the Skin?

When we exercise, our heart rate increases, that much is pretty clear. As our heart rate increases, so does the speed at which our blood is being pumped around our bodies.

This causes the blood vessels to vasodilate (expand) meaning that oxygen and nutrient rich blood can reach the skin quicker, flooding the skin with the elements it needs to glow and appear healthier and younger. Oxygen rich skin is the healthiest looking skin, so take a good look at your skin the day after exercise and notice how healthy and plump it looks.

Also, exercising causes us to sweat, and sweating helps to release toxins through the skin. The skin is our largest organ, and it’s well prepared for helping to rid us of toxins that can build up and dull the skin.

Why does our skin turn red when we exercise?

The skin is extrinsically linked to exercise - we only need to go for a run and experience that red faced glow afterwards to realise that. But a red face during and after exercise is nothing to worry about, nor does it mean you’re unfit. It’s simply a case of genetics.

When we exercise, particularly aerobic exercise such as running or cycling, our blood flow increases and the blood vessels dilate to allow this extra surge of blood. But this isn't just because it wants to send oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the skin.

The body also wants to avoid overheating, so the increased blood flow helps to move this extra inner heat to the surface of the skin, to remove it from the body where it can radiate away.

If you do go very red in the face when you exercise, it’s because you probably have more blood vessels in your face than others who don’t get the glow. You may also find that you blush more when you’re embarrassed or under pressure. For you, this is a perfectly normal consequence of exercising, so feel proud!

Does exercise make your skin look younger?

So, given that exercise helps deliver oxygen and vital nutrients to the skin, and allows us to release toxins, it can have the advantage of making the skin look younger!

Can exercise clear the skin?

For the same reasons of oxygen and nutrient delivery and toxin release making the skin appear younger, exercise can help to rid the skin of dirt and debris, effectively clearing the skin ”from the inside”. But it’s essential to cleanse thoroughly after exercise, to help remove sweat along with this dirt and debris, to avoid it clogging the skin.

Does the Science Back This Up?


Research has shown that exercise can increase the amount of collagen that is present in the skin matrix. Collagen is a protein, the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s present in the joints where it helps to make up the spongy cartilage that cushions the joints.

It’s also present underneath the skin, where it forms a framework, like a biological scaffold for the skin to sit on. As we age, we lose collagen, and as the framework begins to separate and sag, so does the skin laying on top, leading to wrinkles and drooping.

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise such as cycling can increase the level of collagen present in the skin making it appear tighter, reducing the appearance of fine lines.

Other scientific studies have also found that exercise can help the skin appear younger by affecting the mitochondria. Mitochondria are present in our cells, including our skin cells, and are responsible for energy production and the control of reactive oxygen molecules that can lead to inflammation and ageing.

As we age, our mitochondrial function begins to diminish, but studies suggest that exercise can help to improve and maintain mitochondrialhealth and therefore improve the skin.

Does exercise tighten the skin?

Many of us experience loose skin, either through ageing, extreme weight loss, pregnancy or plain old genetics. But the good news is, exercise can help to tighten loose skin by promoting the development of more muscle mass.

This is particularly true of weight training, which forces the muscles to work hard, creating tiny little tears that need repairing. These little tears are why we ache the day after exercise. The body then does a great job of repairing the muscles, laying down more muscle fibres and in doing so, creating bigger muscles. This can then have the benefits of tightening loose skin, such as crepey skin on the arms.

When I exercise my skin itches, why is that?

Itching after exercise can be caused by prickly heat, a type of skin rash caused by sweat getting trapped in the pores, causing bumps and blisters. This can be especially problematic if you’re exercising in very hot conditions, so try to exercise in the morning or evening when it’s cooler in the summer.

The Importance of Cleansing After Exercise

Because of course, all of these benefits to the skin will be lost if we don’t also look after our skin from the outside.

So remember, especially if you have problematic or stressed out skin, wash your face as soon as you can after exercise.

The sweat produced during exercise will form a thin layer on the face as it dries, and can cause skin conditions such as acne and eczema to flare up if it’s not washed away. This is especially important if you exercise with makeup on.

The Sönd range of skincare was created with skin just like yours in mind, so why not check out our range today?



Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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