Skin Care & Fitness

skin-care-and-fitnessHealth, fitness and well being are essential. A regular regimen of proper exercise combined with a balanced diet of fresh, nutritious foods and plenty of water each day can ensure an enhanced quality of life and longevity. Eating well, staying hydrated, and gettingenough exercise can also ensure more radiant and younger-looking skin. Most of us may think of our skin care regimen as different from our personal health and fitness program, however, they are vital and intimately connected.

Physical Fitness is Good Skin Therapy

No, you don’t put on jogging shoes or slip into yoga pants each day in order to exfoliate your skin or dab moisturizer around your eyes. But, when you go to the gym, for a run around the park, or to yoga or spinning class, you are actually creating physical impact that affects your skin.

How does that work, exactly? Skin is the largest organ in the human body. After all, skin covers large areas, regulates body temperature and releases toxins. “Exercise increases blood flow, which carries oxygen and vital nutrients to your skin cells, optimizing cell function,” says Dr. Emily Arsenault, with Arsenault Dermatology in Sarasota.

Exercise helps to cleanse free radicals and other wastes, and gives your cheeks that rosy glow. Additionally, regular exercise has proven to decrease stress. Stress triggers many ailments, including skin diseases such as, psoriasis or eczema. Exercise decreases the severity of these stress-induced skin diseases.

Working Out Can Also Damage Your Skin

Riding your bike at top speed can certainly get you ‘in the zone’ where you feel that lactic acid burn, and know that your body is using up its available supply of oxygen. During strenuous exercise, your sweat carries toxins, moisture, and electrolytes out of the body. This can result in overall dehydration. Think of this process happening with skin cells, draining the moisture and causing a taut, drawn, emaciated look. Those salts in your perspiration can also etch away at your skin. Dr. Arsenault says, “Friction and excessive sweating can lead to chaffing, causing an irritation dermatitis.”

Do you jog or swim, and spend lots of time outdoors? Chronic sun exposure from UV rays could cause cell DNA mutation, prematurely weathering your skin with age spots, wrinkles and increasing risk of skin cancer. Frequent sunburns significantly increase that risk.

Add a Dermatologist to Your Fitness Team

So, what should you do to get the most benefit from exercise and fitness without compromising your appearance? How do you avoid threats that may harm your skin and overall health? Just as you should consult your physician before embarking on any fitness program, talk to your dermatologist. Drink plenty of fluids to keep skin cells hydrated and appearing plump, dewy and healthy. Dr. Arsenault suggests:

  • Avoid exercise in peak sun exposure hours, between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher with frequent reapplication (at least every two hours).
  • Use sunscreens that include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These provide a physical barrier that reflect the harmful rays of the sun, and are less irritating to the eyes.
  • Wear loose, moisture-wicking fabrics to pull sweat away from the skin.
  • Wear tightly-woven, UV-blocking fabrics for sun protection.
  • Apply barrier balms to areas of the skin that frequently chaff, to prevent irritation.
  • Shower soon after exercise to prevent fungus and bacterial infections.

Now you can relax and enjoy your fitness regimen, knowing that you will look your best over the long run and have even healthier, younger skin.

Dr. Emily Arsenault is a graduate of the University of Miami School of medicine and a board certified Dermatologist in Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch. She has been voted “Best Dermatologist” for the past six years in the Bradenton Herald’s People’s Choice awards. For more information on Dr. Arsenault visit