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Does Exercise Cause Acne?

Does Exercise Improve Your Skin? A Dermatologist Weighs In

While you probably already know that regular exercise is good for your body, you may not have considered the toll your morning Pilates class could have on your skin.

After all, your body heats up when you exercise, sweating and causing friction as you move against your clothing: a combination that's not always kind to skin. That's why we consulted board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, to find out the effect your daily sweat session has on your complexion.

"Exercise increases blood flow, which provides nourishment to your skin and also carries away waste products like free radicals," Dr. Bhansulai said. "The better circulation of oxygen you experience often leads to a 'post-workout glow.'"

In addition to giving you a healthy-looking complexion post-class, there are potential long-term benefits of exercise to your skin as well. "There have been [studies] that show an increase in collagen with regular exercise, which is important in maintaining the appearance and function of skin," he said.

A study at McMaster University in Ontario in mice showed that signs of aging were decreased when the mice were put on a consistent exercise routine. Although the mice were genetically altered to prematurely age, their fur didn't even turn grey. This study might mean that regular exercise can contribute to a more youthful appearance.

However, if you're acne-prone, there can be negative side effects if you don't cleanse your skin after a workout. "If you're not showering or cleansing the area after, you might experience an increase in acne, especially yeast or fungal acne," Dr. Bhansali said. If you're unable to shower right after your workout, consider keeping a salicylic acid body spray in your bag. You can also wash with an acne body wash like Neutrogena Body Clear Acne Body Scrub With Salicylic Acid ($16).

Overall, regular exercise will not only benefit you on the inside, but also your outward appearance. So, the next time you're thinking of skipping your workout class for happy hour, consider which one will make you glow in the morning.

Image Source: Shutterstock
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