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Chapter 2: Exercise and Lifestyle
Hello! Thanks for jogging on over (hee hee) to my essential guide for healthy skin!
Today, we’re going to talk all about how your exercise and lifestyle choices can actually have an effect on your skin.
Don’t worry, this won’t be a guilt fest about your “wrong choices” (we all love occasional treats and lazy weekends!).
My hope is that you will learn some info about your skin and be encouraged to find some healthy habits that work for you so you’ll be on your way to the skin you’ve always wanted.
Let’s do this!
Perks of Exercise
I’m sure you already know how good exercise can benefit your overall health, but did you know that while you’re toning up your tush, you’re also reversing signs of aging on your skin?
Now, this could be due to the fact that as you start working and building new muscles, your skin gets pulled a little tighter as you burn fat and build muscle.
However, it's also the result of getting that heart pumping.
“Anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant,” says Ellen Marmur, M.D. and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Just think of that healthy glow (and, okay, sweat) your skin takes on after a good workout.
The science behind this is that when you increase blood flow like you do with a good sweat sesh, you carry oxygen to your skin cells which provides them with nutrients.
Plus, this process helps flush out not-so-good stuff like free radicals which can break down collagen and elastin and speed up signs of aging, according to the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
When you get down and break a sweat, as Marmur explains, you’re actually “cleansing your skin from the inside.”
Out with the bad, in with the good!
I know it can be tough sometimes to start a new routine or even stick with a current one.
Here are some hacks to get you movin’ and groovin’ for better health and better skin!
- Find something you love - You’re less likely to want to go to the gym if you don’t like running on a treadmill. Try yoga or dance, rock climbing or roller skating. Groupon is a wonderful place to find deals if you want to try a new place out before committing!
- Create a buddy system - When you have a workout buddy, you’ll keep each other accountable to exercise regularly. This comes in really handy on days when you’re tired and could easily talk yourself out of it.
- Work it in where you can - If your excuse is that you’re just too busy to work out for 30 minutes a day, find ways to move that work for your schedule. Do 5 or 10-minute mini-workouts throughout the day.
- Look for fitness opportunities - Walk to the store, or park far away. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do squats while you get ready in the morning. If you have a job that requires that you sit for long periods, set an hourly alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and take a couple laps around the office. Every little bit helps, and it all adds up!
- Shift how you view exercise - Rather than seeing exercise as a punishment or something you have to endure, look at it as a celebration of your health and what your body is capable of accomplishing, no matter what level you’re at.
Bottom Line: Find a way to get up and get moving in a way that suits your body and your lifestyle! It will benefit your overall health and your skin!
Keeping Skin Clear While Exercising
Are your workouts causing breakouts?
While exercise can provide excellent benefits for skin, your sweat sessions could also cause blemishes and irritations!
Here are some tips to make sure you don’t break out after breaking a sweat.
- Don’t wear makeup to the gym - I know, it’s bad enough to be your sweatiest in front of strangers without adding the vulnerability of going barefaced, but makeup such as powders, concealers, and foundations can get trapped in pores and cause blemishes and irritation.
- Cleanse your face before your workout - At the very least, keep some facial cleansing wipes in your gym bag to remove as much makeup as possible. If you simply can’t tolerate the thought of going makeup-free in front of your fellow gym-goers, limit it to mascara and tinted lip balm or anything that doesn’t cover skin and pores.
- Don’t wait to wash up - Stuff like dirt, oils, makeup, and sweat can all get trapped in pores after a workout and cause blemishes or make conditions like acne or skin sensitivities worse. Plus, germs and bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments (like your post-workout skin).
- Don’t forget sun protection - Sun damage accounts for 80%-90% of signs of aging! When you’re enjoying a good outdoor workout, not only are you getting lots of sun exposure, there’s a good chance you’re sweating off your sunblock. So apply and REAPPLY diligently!
Pro Tip: If you’re worried about that dreaded burning of sweat and sunscreen running into your eyes, look for a physical (or mineral) sunblock rather than a chemical one. These typically include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide UV protection and are far less irritating than chemical varieties (and they’re my personal SPF favorite).
Try to avoid exercising outside during peak UV exposure times (usually between 10 am and 4 pm), or sport some protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt or hat to keep skin covered.
Bottom Line: Make sure you’re exercising good skin care while you’re working out, and your skin will stay in the clear!
Benefits of Beauty Sleep
There’s a reason they call it beauty sleep.
We’ve all seen our faces after a rough night - or a few - and it’s not great.
The dark circles. The puffy eyes. The tired skin and dull complexion.
Your body, and your skin, actually need sleep to operate at peak performance!
When you get good sleep, your body uses that time to repair itself.
This is especially important if you’re exercising and nursing sore muscles, but it’s also necessary to encourage skin repair.
During the deepest phases of sleep is when cell regeneration occurs, so this is when your body works best to heal itself.
Sleep allows your body to regulate hydration and skin’s moisture.
When you skip out on getting your zzzzzzz’s, your skin can dry out and lose suppleness, making sagging and fine lines more apparent.
Keeping Stress in Check
A lack of sleep also releases higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body.
This creates inflammation and can break down your skin’s collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and sagging.
Sleep helps maintain a healthy cortisol and stress level.
Here are some quick tips to ensure you book a nightly trip to dreamland!
My Tips for Good Sleep
- Exercise regularly - Working out on the reg will result in better sleep. Just don’t do it right before you hit the sheets! Exercise no later than 2 hours prior to sleep.
- Stick to a sleep schedule - Yes, even on weekends. It can be tempting stay out late and sleep away the days til Monday, but the more you can stick to a regular schedule, the easier your body will adopt it and regulate an internal clock.
- Avoid screens - The blue light from bright screens of laptops, phones, and TVs can slow melatonin production (the sleep hormone) and signal to your body that it needs to stay awake. Power down 1 hour before going to sleep, and read a book or listen to calming music while you get ready for bed, instead.
- Create a sleep haven - Try to make your bedroom the ideal sleep environment. Take out the TV and add softly-lit bedside lamps so you don’t have to use bright lights. If your room is too loud (or too quiet) at night, consider a white noise machine or download a phone app that plays white noise or soothing sounds.
And, if you can’t get your room completely dark at night, grab a comfy sleep mask to block out light.
It makes me sleepy just thinking about it!
Bottom Line: Sleep does a body good inside and out, so make sure you’re getting plenty of it. And, come on, what’s better than the feeling of a good night’s rest?
How Stress Affects Your Skin
It seems like today we’re busier than ever.
Between work, school, family, social obligations, and the general responsibilities of adulting, we often find ourselves stressed out and burnt out.
That means we’re stressing ourselves out over nothing because 97% of stuff either never happens or is totally manageable!
Stress not only fries your brain and exhausts you, it actually has an effect on your skin.
- When you’re stressed, your body releases higher levels of hormones like cortisol which can cause inflammation throughout the body. This can worsen conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. It also weakens your immune system and your skin’s protective barrier, making it vulnerable to damage and harder for it to fight off infection.
- Inflammation also does a number on skin aging, as it breaks down collagen and elastin. This means skin loses firmness and exhibits sagging, wrinkles, and fine lines.
- Stress cuts into your sleep, which means you’re depriving your body of some much-needed rest and repair time.
Some Tips for Reducing Stress
Sometimes, there’s just nothing you can do to get rid of a stressful situation.
If you can’t change your circumstances, try to change how it affects you.
Do some calming breathing exercises, take a walk outside to clear your head, or call a friend.
Remember to keep perspective!
Something my mama would often say is, “Will this matter in five years, or even in eternity? If not, don’t spend your energy on it. Let it go.” Wise words!
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Your mind and your skin will thank you!
Bottom Line: We all experience stressful situations that we can’t control. But, we can control how we react. Friends, take a deep breath and take care of yourselves!
Life is crazy - and it can definitely show up on our skin.
We can't forget to take care of ourselves!
Getting exercise is one surefire way to reduce stress (hello, endorphins!).
You'll sleep better and give your skin the time it needs to repair itself, so you can say you #wokeuplikethis.
Beauties, do you have any tips from your exercise routine that you'd like to add? What are some ways you manage stress? Share with us in the comments!