It all started with two groups of mice, as often is the case with science, in a laboratory far, far away in Ontario at a school called McMaster University. One rodent group was put through a daily high paced exercise routine of running through treadmills and hamster wheels and the other was allowed to sit on the couch all day watching Seinfeld re-runs. Only kidding, but you get the idea; they remained sedentary. It may come as little surprise that the more active group retained healthy brains, muscles and hearts while the others, grew demented, frail, graying, bald, and ill and it had nothing to do with the Seinfeld re-runs.
Enter humans. The scientists decided to back this study by gathering 29 female and males human specimen ranging in age from 20- 84. Like the rodents, about half of the participants were kept physically active while the other half exercised for less than an hour per week. Each was asked to reveal a buttock for examination. Said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of pediatrics and exercise science at McMaster said, “We wanted to examine skin that had not been frequently exposed to the sun.”
After the skin was biopsied, the results showed that the men and women over 40 who exercised had healthier and thinner stratum corneums and a thicker layer of dermis in their skin. In translation, their skin was closer in resemblance to 20 and 30-year-olds than their lazier counterparts, even those over age 65. Although the effect of exercise on your skin is not completely clear, levels of substances called myokines, which are set off by working the muscles, are released in much greater quantities in participants after exercise. It is suspected that this is what lead to the observed differences in skin quality.
Other experts have weighed in on exercise’s impact on the dermis, and not necessarily only the parts under your bloomers, and here’s what they had to say.
Exercise and Complexion
Celebrity trainer Dalton Wong believes that exercise can tone your skin in the same way it tones your muscles. Wong says, “As we age, our skin naturally loses its plumping, youthful layer of fat. But if you exercise the right way, you can build up muscle which gives that same volumizing effect…. it’s the lean muscle mass that sits just under the surface which can create lifted, taut looking skin.”
Wong recommends you focus on resistance training, including pushups, lunges, and planking for elimination of cellulite and toning of muscles and skin. He advises a circuit routine including three to four sets of activities involving weight bearing with two to four-minute intervals of cardio repeated four times. Wong also warns that doing cardio excessively can actually cause skin to lose elasticity, especially if you are under or overweight. Running long distances places stress on the body, releasing excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes inflammation and breaks down collagen, resulting in sagging and wrinkling.
Sweating regulates body temperature and eliminates toxins. Increased blood flow helps to bring oxygen and nutrients to your skin. Increasing water intake will help in flushing out the toxins and oils that can clog pores and contribute to breakouts of acne.
As Wong tells celeb client J.Law, “No one can work out if they’re not properly hydrated – it makes your skin look better, too. Conversely, if you’re training without drinking enough water, you’ll damage your skin pretty quickly.” How can you tell if you’re dehydrated? If the skin on the back of your hand does not spring back after you pinch it, drink some water. If its good enough for J.Law……
Are you a natural beauty? Let us know what your think. What has exercise done to or for your skin?
We’d love to hear it.