Exercise has many benefits for your body, but today I will be specifically talking about the benefits of regular exercise for your skin. There are a handful of reasons that exercise improves your skin.
- Reduces insulin resistance and sensitivity (insulin is the key for sugar to be absorbed into a cell)
- Helps regulates hormones specifically androgens – which is responsible for the excessive sebaceous production
- Improves cardiovascular circulation
- Decreases stress
- Helps rid toxins from the body via sweat and circulation
So let’s start with insulin resistance and/or sensitivity. When you don’t exercise and eat loads of sugary foods, this can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a way of your body saying “I’ve had enough sugar and I can’t absorb anymore”. So how does insulin resistance actually work?? It’s where you eat something sugaring, triggering the release of insulin, however, your body has reduced its response to insulin, therefore, your cells reduce the uptake of sugar. So where does this leave you? It leaves you with high sugar and insulin in your bloodstream which is very damaging in its own right, and a topic in itself, which will be discuss another day.
So what does this have to do with acne?? Well, insulin triggers the release of androgens, so more insulin in your bloodstream means more androgens. High androgens is a key characteristic in the development of acne. Androgens increase sebaceous and epidermis cell production, which is the perfect environment for P.acnes to hyper-colonise, resulting in acne.
So what will exercise do to help? when you exercise you need energy right? Well, the energy will primarily come from available sugar and sugar stores (energy can come from fat stores if you eat a low carbohydrate diet). So when you start exercising and using your fat stores, this triggers your body to want to refill the fat stores and absorb more sugar, this is when you will become less resistant to insulin. When you’re less resistance to insulin your body will reduce the production of androgens which is what you want in the case of acne.
Exercise and androgens. Scientific research identifies many pathways in which exercise can reduce androgens in woman.
- Fat tissue stores a specific enzyme called 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase which converts androstenedione to testosterone. By reducing fat stores through frequent exercise you will reduce this enzyme which will decrease your production of testosterone.
- Exercise increases your sex hormone binding globulins (SHBG) which are proteins that bind to hormones and make them inactive (cannot be used). The unbound hormones are referred to as “free” which are ultimately the hormones that can potentiate an effect. By increasing your SHBG you decrease the free hormones including testosterone which contributes to acne.
- One of the main reasons acne develops is because of a hypersensitivity of the sebaceous units, meaning that they are very sensitive to certain stimuli especially testosterone, which is found in the sebaceous units. Aerobic exercise decreases this sensitivity and decreases the ability of acne formation.
Exercise improves cardiovascular circulation. So why is that important? Its important for many reasons but for acne its important for healing our skin. People who suffer from acne are usually left with marks on their skin where pimples have come up and damaged their skin. It usually takes a while for the marks to completely disappear and in some cases, the marks will turn into scars. So what happens when a pimple comes up? Our body fights. It wants to get rid of the inflammation and bacteria as fast as possible, so specific cells flood the area to get rid of the bacteria and inflammation, and it also transports nutrients to the site for the healing process to begin. Think of your circulatory system as a delivery service which delivers nutrients around the body and picks up all the waste products at the same time. By exercising, we are speeding up this process by delivering nutrients to the cells at a much faster rate, and in-turn it speeds up the healing time, which is exactly what we need when pimples have left marks all over your skin.
So how much exercise should I do? 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week is great.
Keep up the exercise