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Skin Care for Exercisers

Exercisers are prone to numerous skin problems caused by increased moisture or friction or damaging elements like cold, sunlight, and infection. Many skin afflictions, however, can be prevented by keeping the skin dry, clean, and protected.


Let’s start with the gym. The key word for skin at any time is hydration, but when it comes to aerobic exercise in a hot, stuffy environment such as a gym, drinking an adequate supply of water is not so much a matter of comfort as a matter of urgency. Without vigorous exercise, you normally lose about 2 liters(4 1/4 pints) of water a day, only some of it through perspiration. Adding a good sweaty session at the gym will significantly increase the volume lost.

when you are dehydrated, the blood flow to your skin is reduced, and over time this can result in a kind of grey pallor. In the long term, you will also find that the diminishing number of nutrients reaching the skin affects its daily renewal process, meaning skin can become dry and flaky, and washing several times a day will only exacerbate this. Hardly surprising, the best way to combat these effects not only for your skin but also for your general fitness performance-is to drink more water. Drink 500ml (1 pint) of water around two hours before exercise, then 250ml (1/2 pint) when you arrive at the gym-and around every fifteen minutes during your workout. If the thought of this makes you queasy during exercise, chances are you’re already dehydrated. Gym skin also needs extra care on the outside. Exfoliate with a gentle body scrub at least two or three times a week and apply body lotion after showering.

Swimming indoors also brings its own perils. Chlorinated pools leave skin dry, dry, dry-and also leave that lingering ‘detergent’ smell, so it’s vital to wash straight after a dip. Use a highly lathering shower gel (the lather doesn’t make you cleaner, but the extra time it takes to wash off means your body’s getting drenched with extra water) and apply it twice, rinsing in between, in the same way that you would a shampoo on your hair. Again, body lotion afterwards is a must, but keep chemical fragrances to a minimum- they can add to skin dryness.


With all those indoor perils, it may seem as if a run or jog outside in the fresh air would be the perfect way to improve your body and skin together. Oxygen certainly does wonders for radiance-boosting, but there are still some factors to be aware of. If you’re jogging in the city, for example, your skin is exposed to pollution, and wherever you’re exercising there’s always the question of those wrinkle-inducing UV rays. Fine, you might think, I’ll just wear an SPF lotion while I run. The problem is that not all skin creams are alike. An SPF is good (factor 15-30 depending on the sun strength and time of day), but make sure you don’t use a wax-based formulation. The pores on the face are tiny, and these thick, heavy sun protection creams can be comedogenic (pore-clogging), especially when mixed with perspiration. It’s also important to wash your face properly after outdoor exercise. Perspiration mingles with sebum and forms a substance that attracts dirt, and if you don’t wash it away, it will literally sit there all day. Hats and clothing made of tightly woven fabric provide fairly good protection against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Caps protect the scalp and, to some degree, the face. Broad-brimmed hats afford additional coverage of the ears.

No matter how much water you drink, perspiration is a normal part of exercise-even on the face. keep your facial temperature low by drinking plenty of water, and try a facial mist, too. Also, if you’ve drunk more than a glass or two of alcohol in the evening, don’t exercise the following morning you will sweat much more than you would normally.

Another pore-clogging peril is make-up, but there’s one simple make-up rule when it comes to exercising: don’t wear any. Not only will it run as you start to perspire (and mascara halfway down your cheeks is not a good look) but the rise in temperature will help it work its way further down into your pores, making it even harder to clean off afterwards. If you can’t bear to face the world without even as smattering of colour, look for mineral-based make-ups that are non-comedogenic and won’t run, and a water- or gel-based foundation. And as in most situations in life, a little bit of lipstick won’t do any harm!

The skin covers the machinery that allows active people to enjoy improved health, so it’s important to protect it. Preventive skin maintenance can help ensure years of comfortable exercise sessions.

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