While research shows that exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, help control blood sugar levels, and improve mental health, the benefits of exercise for the skin have been less well known. A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that exercise plays an important role in managing certain skin conditions and may also help reduce the risk of specific skin disease.

Examining a database of articles that reported how exercise affected the skin, board-certified dermatologist Babar K. Rao, MD, FAAD,  professor of dermatology and dermatopathology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and adjunct associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical School, found that exercise may slow skin aging, prevent psoriasis in women, and improve venous leg ulcers.

The study found:

  • For those who regularly exercised (more than four hours/week of high-intensity aerobic exercise), it slowed skin aging and reduced skin thinning compared to those who were sedentary (less than one hour/week of high-intensity aerobic exercise).
  • In women, the risk of psoriasis was reduced with vigorous exercise, particularly aerobic exercise and calisthenics.
  • For people with venous leg ulcers, the combination of progressive resistance exercises (i.e., heel raises) with prescribed physical activity (walking 30 minutes, more than three days/week) was found to be the most beneficial for managing this condition.

“Exercise is an important part of maintaining your overall health, including your skin,” said Dr. Rao. “Whether you are seeking anti-aging effects or help managing a skin condition, it’s important to talk with a board-certified dermatologist about all the preventative steps you can take. I also recommend consulting with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.”  

Dr. Rao is available to provide additional insights on this research and offer tips for anti-aging skin care and how to prevent skin problems.

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