Can Exercise Prevent Skin Aging?

We all know that exercise is great for our waistlines and general health and wellness, but could it also help protect our skin against the effects of aging? Research has shown that this is, in fact, the case–all the more reason to stick to your New Year’s resolution to stay active all year long! Here’s what we know about the connection between exercise and the appearance of skin, as well as a few tips for keeping your skin clear and glowing even while working out.

The Role of Exercise in Skin Health

Mitochondria are organelles within our cells that function as their engines. Exercise helps to improve the activity of mitochondria in brain cells. Research has shown that exercise may help optimize the function of mitochondria in skin cells as well. They generate the energy cells need to repair themselves from sun damage and other external assaults, as well as to build more collagen (Journal of Neuroscience). As a result, experts now believe that exercise helps maintain the skin’s youthfulness by promoting the function of these microscopic mitochondria.

In addition, exercise increases blood flow throughout the body. This circulation boost means that more nutrients and oxygen are able to be delivered to your skin, while toxins and waste products are more efficiently removed.

Indirectly, exercise can positively affect your skin’s health and appearance by aiding in stress relief and management. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the skin and can reduce its ability to fight off infection (Journal of Clinical Investigation).

Skincare Tips for Your Workout

Now that we know just how large of an impact regular exercise can have on our skin, there’s no reason not to lace up those sneakers and dust off the exercise equipment. But there are a few general skincare tips to keep in mind when hitting the gym to make sure that your workouts don’t backfire on your skin:

  • Wash your face before working out, especially if you wear makeup. When makeup, dirt, oil and other debris combine with sweat, your pores can become clogged, leading to breakouts.
  • Wear sunscreen if you’re running, biking, swimming or performing other exercise outside. This also includes winter outdoor activities such as skiing and snowboarding because the bright white snow can intensify UV rays (Skin Cancer Foundation).
  • Avoid touching your face while you’re working out, especially at the gym. Gym equipment is notorious for carrying all kinds of bacteria. Use a clean towel to wipe away sweat if necessary.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated from the inside out helps your body and skin to function properly.
  • Wash your hands and face immediately after your workout to get rid of excess sweat, dirt and bacteria.

In Summary

The countless health and beauty benefits of exercise far outweigh the potential skincare faux pas that can arise, but you can avoid them by practicing healthy hygiene habits before, during and after your workout. Not only will you enjoy better mental health and a fitter physique by staying active, but you will also notice an improvement in the look and feel of your skin!


Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through

February 13, 2017 Skin Aging