Despite the fact that less than 5% of all adults actually participate in their recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, most of us know that exercise is overwhelmingly good for our health. And in many ways, it is. But there’s one part of the body that can sometimes suffer when you up your exercise: your skin.
The unfortunate reality is that your fitness regime may be to blame for your frequent breakouts. As the most common skin condition in the U.S., acne affects up to 50 million Americans every year. There can be numerous contributing factors to acne, as well as many different types. Genetics, diet, hormones, stress, medications, and product usage can all play a role in your skin’s overall appearance. But you might not have realized that your health-conscious efforts to break a sweat could be what’s causing those painful, unattractive pimples to surface.
Nearly 85% of people develop acne at some point during their lives. But something referred to as “runner’s acne” could be wreaking havoc on your skin. Essentially, the heat, sweat, and friction that you experience when you exercise can end up blocking follicles and can cause you to break out.
The clothing you wear and the products you put on prior to a workout, as well as your behaviors after you’re done, can make matters worse. That’s why it’s important to wear clean, breathable garments to the gym every time you work out and to take a shower immediately after you’re finished. You should also stop wearing makeup to the gym and refrain from touching your face directly during a workout (use a clean towel instead).
Keep in mind, however, that if you’re already acne prone or are hoping to keep your skin clear, skipping your workouts isn’t the answer, either. Lack of physical activity can actually contribute to breakouts, while exercise can reduce stress (a known cause of acne) and open up your pores. In theory, this means that exercise can help keep acne in check, so it’s important to find a truly healthy balance.
Instead of hitting the gym hard every time, you might consider joining the 30% of U.S. adults who walk for exercise on a daily basis. This can help you embrace good physical habits without sacrificing the appearance of your skin in the process. Some experts believe that running, in particular, can have a negative impact on your skin’s elasticity. If you want to banish your zits, opt for a moderate speed instead of a strenuous one. And wipe down that dirty gym equipment!
The winter season is already hard on your skin. Hydration and gym time are key to feeling healthy and relaxed during this time of year. But before you get your fitness on, make sure that your bad habits — like wearing sweaty gym clothes, touching your face, or going for broke with your workouts — aren’t going to cause pimples to pop up.