Is Exercise the Fountain of Youth?


Aside from making you tougher and stronger, working out regularly can also make your skin more youthful and beautiful. 

As many of us know from experience, our skin changes as the years advance, resulting in wrinkles, crow’s feet and sagging. This occurs because of changes within our layers of skin. After about age 40, people commonly experience a thickening of our stratum corneum, the protective, outer most layer of the epidermis- the top layer of your skin. The stratum corneum is the portion of the skin that you see and feel. Composed mostly of dead skin cells and some collagen, it gets drier, flakier and denser with age.

The opposite process is happening to the dermis, the layer of skin beneath the epidermis. The dermis starts to lose its cells and elasticity, thinning faster and faster. As a visual result of this process, we start noticing how our skin may give us a saggier appearance, and even become more translucent. The older we are, the more visible these two direct effects of skin aging show up in us.

Almost a third of the protein in the human body consists of collagen. It gives strength and elasticity to all connective tissues, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons, and muscles.

A youthful appearance depends on collagen for skin cell regeneration and firmness. Wrinkles, bone brittleness and overall physical deterioration are signs of the loss of collagen. As the human body ages, its natural production of collagen slows, but collagen can still be produced by strength-building exercises.

Strength-training exercise tears down old internal connecting body tissue and regenerates new tissue. Skin, the external connecting body tissue, is also made mostly of collagen, and a similar process takes place with exfoliation. Facial scrubs as well as some chemical products remove surface skin cells and stimulate the skin to produce new cell growth and new collagen.

Breaking a sweat reduces overall inflammation, helps regulate hormones and prevents free-radical damage. When you exercise, the tiny arteries in your skin open up, allowing more blood to reach the skin’s surface and deliver nutrients that repair damage from the sun and environmental pollutants. These nutrients also increase the skin’s collagen production, staving off wrinkles.

To reap the beneficial skin effects of working out, a few extra steps are required.

If you're acne prone, make sure to keep gentle, salicylic wipes in your gym bag. Be sure to wipe/cleanse your face and other areas that tend to break out immediately after exercising. And above all, avoid exercising with makeup on your face.