By: James R. Kearns
We all got into fitness and started exercising for a variety of reasons. Maybe you wanted to lose some weight, get stronger, or become a better athlete. While we may have different objectives, we are receiving a lot of the same benefits from exercise, regardless of the goal.
You are probably well aware of how regular exercise can lower the risk of disease and cancer, strengthen bone, improve your mood, and improve your quality of life. But, did you know that exercise affects your skin too?
This may not be something that you would normally give much thought to, but it should be. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, the first thing people see when you meet them, and your first line of defense against bacteria commonly found in the gym.
First, let’s go over the positive effects of exercise and your skin:
Blood In—Waste Out
During periods of exercise, your heart begins pumping harder to supply you muscles with much-needed oxygen and to get rid of waste that builds up. Exercise affects your skin in much of the same way.
When your body increases its blood flow it’s also delivering nutrient rich blood to your skin. Just like blood to your muscles, the blood that gets delivered to your skin also gets rid of waste and free radicals. This helps keep your skin looking clean and healthy.
A few zits here-and-there or mild acne, most of us had some sort of acne when we were kids. Unfortunately, high levels of stress, poor diet choices, or other environmental factors means that some of us are still victims of an occasional pimple.
When you are in the gym or running around the neighborhood, you may be sweating your way to blemish-free skin. Sweating during exercise causes your pores to open and gets rid of toxins in the skin that clog things up and cause zits.
Unfortunately, the effects that exercise has on your skin is not all positive. Here are some negative effects that exercise can have on your skin and what to do about them:
Wait—didn’t I just say that exercise eliminates zits? Exercise-induced sweating is great for reducing skin blemishes, but it you don’t shower after workouts, the sweat will lay on your face and skin. This will cause your pores to become clogged and become a sanctuary for blemishes.
The solution for this is simple—get a shower after exercising. There some great skincare products that you can use in the shower to get sweat and other scum off of your body. Remember that sweating is good, but letting it sit too long is asking for skin problems.
Pimples aren’t the only unsightly blemishes that can affect our skin. There are some serious bacteria that may call your gym home.
Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause diseases and there is no shortage of them in the gym. Some of the most common bacteria that you can find in your fitness facility include:
- Klebsiella- Can cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and possibly blood infections and meningitis.
- Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph) - Looks like a small pimple and can get very sore, spread, and even become life-threatening.
- Candida (Ringworm) – Unsightly circles on your skin that may blister and crack.
What makes these highly contagious bacteria so common is the fact that they can be contracted by simply touching a contaminated piece of equipment in the gym. Barbells, dumbbells, machines, and especially locker rooms can become sanctuaries for these bacterial infections.
The solution for this is also quite easy. If you can’t get a shower at the gym, at least wash your hands before you leave. Then get a shower when you get home.Did you realize how much your skin can be affected by exercise? Whether you like it or not, your training will play a giant role in how your skin looks and feels. Be sure to take this into consideration the next time you’re in (and out of) the gym.