We go to the gym to look and feel better from the inside out—to feel more confident, to whip our muscles into shape, to lose those extra five pounds. While exercise is most commonly thought of as something that benefits the body overall, it’s worth acknowledging its many beauty benefits, too.
Your blood flow boosts your glow. Our skin cells receive their nourishment from tiny capillaries located deep within the inner layers of the skin. When we exercise and our heart rates increase, the increased blood flow pushes vitamins, minerals, and oxygen into those capillaries. Blood and oxygen are essential for all healing, so the best way to achieve that youthful glow is to get that heart rate up and blood flow going, says celeb trainer and fitness expert Jason Wimberly. The bonus: A little flush to the cheeks means you may not need that new blush after all.
Defy gravity. Inversions counteract the forces of gravity in our normal orientation. As we age, we see the effects of gravity on our skin all over our body, says CorePower Yoga Senior VP of Programming Heather Peterson. Spending time in any inversion pose, whether that’s downward facing dog, a headstand, or a handstand, helps to counter those gravitational effects and increases the elasticity of the skin. “The reversal of gravity promotes movement of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for 80-percent of our immune function. This helps cleanse your skin from the inside out,” Peterson says.
Better circulation also means better hair. The last thing we’d expect to happen when we go to the gym is have better hair—in fact, we leave feeling ready for a thorough shampooing, but the increased circulation and blood flow that’s so beneficial for our complexions also stimulates the hair follicles and promotes growth.
Sweat is good for you. Sweat gets a bad rap for the belief that it clogs pores—not so. Sweating is actually your skin’s way of detoxing naturally, and one of the primary ways your body eliminates toxins, says Wimberly. A good sweat session is sort of like a steam clean for your pores from the inside out. Tricky bacteria on your skin from the rest of your day is, however, where you can get into trouble. Be sure to remove makeup and cleanse thoroughly before you hit the gym so that sweat won’t get trapped in your pores.
Stop stressing. Not only can the stress hormone cortisol wreck havoc on your waistline, but it also accelerates the aging process. It’s been shown to damage the collagen and elastin that keeps your skin tight, while slowing down the production of new skin growth, says Wimberly. Regular exercise creates healing endorphins that can effectively counteract the harmful effects of cortisol.