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Running Toward Beautiful Skin: Can Going for A Run Help Your Skin?

written by Skye Sherman - Jan 13, 2020
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Aug 14, 2022

Photo Credit: by Presidio of Monterey,
Photo Credit: by Presidio of Monterey,

It may sound too good to be true, but there’s one exercise you can add into your routine that may improve the health and appearance of your skin. Why not do double duty when you lace up your sneakers and work up a sweat?

We all know exercise is good for our health, but seeing visible benefits to our skin, too? What could be better! If your workout can contribute not only to your physical fitness but also the health of your skin, you’ll be all the more excited to hit the streets (or the treadmill).

We’ve long known that running offers an array of health benefits, but few think of running in terms of something that helps to improve your overall beauty and possibly even improve skin problems.

Can extra running help you get gorgeous in a month?

Running isn’t just beneficial for a healthy heart, good endurance, and strong, lean muscles… it can also give you a gorgeous glow, sans the help of any makeup or Instagram filters. While running is a great form of exercise, its benefits may extend beyond the gym and even as far as the skin you’re in.

Want to get gorgeous in a month with marked changes to your weight, body, overall wellness, and possibly even your skin? Go from being a couch potato to running on the regular (as in, three to seven times per week). Your runs don’t have to be that long; a couple miles or a quick half hour can do the trick.

As you begin running, you’ll notice improvements to your speed, endurance, and capacity for exercise. Due to burning excess calories (and likely being inspired to eat better in the process), you’ll likely notice the loss of extra weight you’ve been carrying that isn’t helping your body. And in the process of becoming more lean and strong, you may even see improvements to your skin. We’ll explore more on that below.

Doesn’t running and sweating aggravate skin and cause acne?

The idea that running could improve your skin may seem counterintuitive to some people. After all, doesn’t sweating cause breakouts and acne flare-ups? Not exactly. What causes the skin issues associated with sweating isn’t the sweat itself but the poor hygiene habits that can sometimes accompany a sweaty workout.

For example, running with makeup on is a no-no, and so is keeping your sweaty workout clothes on after you exercise. Instead, shower or change clothes immediately after completing a workout; cleaning the sweat and any outdoor pollutants off your skin post-run is a must if you want to experience the maximum benefits of running. Otherwise, the damp clothing and excess oil being produced can clog your pores and irritate your skin, leading to blemishes. Some turn to the use of products like Retin A Cream 0.1% Online Canada to combat acne and other skin conditions.

You also want to make sure you’re not causing undue damage to your face when you begin running, especially you plan to primarily take your runs outside. The additional sun exposure can lead to more UV rays than you usually would have on a daily basis plus the possibility of sunburn and increased risk of skin cancer.

Be mindful that running outside is an important time to apply SPF, even if you feel you’re not outside very long or run in the early morning when the sun’s rays are weakest. As long as you make efforts to care for your skin, you will maximize the benefits and keep the risk of harm at a minimum.

Can running help you live longer and make you more beautiful?

Some runners report improvements to their skin when they begin running, an unexpected and seldom discussed benefit of running. An article titled Running Bug: how running improves your skin in The Telegraph states,

“Dr Emma Wedgeworth, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, tells me that it’s scientific fact that as well as being good for general health, running can also help our skin.

‘When we exercise,’ she explains, ‘we boost circulation to our skin, increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery, which gives us that immediate post-exercise glow. Enhanced skin blood flow can also help skin cells regenerate and remove toxins more efficiently. All of these changes can help regulate comedogenesis, the pore blockage which is the first stage in acne.’

In addition, running--as with all exercise in general--is known to reduce our natural stress hormone, cortisol, ‘which can be pro-inflammatory and make a number of skin conditions worse, including chronic skin conditions such as eczema,’ Dr Wedgeworth says. Stress is also one of the major triggers for scratching, which is known to make eczema worse. ‘So managing stress by regular exercise may prevent skin damage from that.’ … regular cardio (but not resistance training) [also] improves the texture of the skin. Researchers tested men and women over 65 who had previously been sedentary, and after three months the volunteers who started exercising twice a week for 30 minutes had markedly better skin.”

Exercising regularly can also help you sleep better by ensuring your body is less stressed as well as totally depleted of energy and ready to recharge at the end of the day. Many find that when they start exercising or begin a workout routine, they fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly--another potentially unexpected health benefit of adding runs into the mix.

If sleeping helps you to live longer and care for your brain, heart, and other organs, as well as get better sleep, then running may offer a lifetime of benefits that can keep you moving and grooving for many years to come.

Help! I’m red after a run!

Many runners notice that their face is extremely red and flushed after they hit the pavement. Resembling a tomato may not be exactly what you had in mind when you set out for your rejuvenating run, expecting to notice improvements to your skin. Fortunately, it’s nothing to be worried about, according to Allure. And in fact, it may be indicative of the fact that your efforts are actually working.

“That red-in-the-face look is a normal part of exercise,” according to an article published by the trusted beauty gurus. “We all want that sexy post run glow … but let’s be honest: Sometimes we look more red and blotchy than cute and dewy. That’s normal and not a bit harmful, says Marc Glashofer, a skin-cancer surgeon in New Jersey. When you run, your blood vessels dilate to release heat, which results in red skin. For the most part, the red effect chills out as you cool down.

“One caveat: Dilated blood vessels can worsen chronic skin conditions like rosacea, says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a dermatologist in New York City. This isn’t to say that people with rosacea need to skip running altogether. Just keep a cold cloth by the treadmill to cool down, she suggests. If you’re running outside, a splash from a water bottle works just as well.”

A red face is proof that you got your blood pumping and the many benefits of running are on their way. To combat any detriment of running hard, just make sure you cool down properly and practice good hygiene by cleansing your skin post-run. Try out a 30-day running regimen and take before and after photos to see how your skin tone, texture, and clarity may have improved alongside the implementation of your new healthy habit.



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