The Secret of the Body-Skin Connection
Why System Akvile Believes In a Body-Skin Connection
Starting a fitness routine may be one of the best things you can do for your health. As we know keeping fit is good for our body, but why does this help our skin?
Well, just like with mind, nutrition and skincare our body’s fitness is an important component to a more holistic lifestyle.
Regular physical activity is beneficial to many aspects of our health - physical, mental & skin. We know this, yet a lot of us still struggle to maintain a consistent fitness routine. For me, keeping fit reduced stress and gave me heaps more confidence! Which was the perfect recipe for feeling better about myself.
But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Right? Making exercise a habit takes more - you need the right mindset and a smart approach.
I wasn’t always into keeping fit, I used to be a real couch potato. Even the thought of exercising made me want to cry a little. Eventually I found a routine that worked for me and I never looked back...but how do you begin?
How Having a Fitness Routine Changed Me and My Skin
Switching my mindset from weight-loss-goals to fun-fitness-goals was difficult. I used to stare critically at myself thinking that I’d like my body to look different - to look better. Better than what, or who? I don’t know.
But as I began to research the topic of fitness and its effects on our body I started to understand that the benefits of physical activity are far more than just losing weight or achieving that “beach body”. I was wasting time criticizing myself instead of trying to make positive lifestyle choices, so I decided to love myself and make some changes to become more healthy and active!
Researchers at the University of Vermont noted in a pilot study that the mood benefits of 20 minutes of exercise a day can last for up to 12 hours. So, I decided to try and incorporate at least 20 minutes of physical activity into my routine each day. What did I have to lose?!
All in all, living more actively didn’t change my skin immediately or dramatically. However, feeling physically stronger and healthier (and getting more fresh air) helped me to deal with my breakouts a lot better. One or two pimples on my face doesn’t look so dramatic anymore!
In order to begin exercising more, first we need to really understand the benefits so, here are System Akvile’s...
Top 4 Reasons To Believe in the Power of a Fitness Routine
1. Body -
Strong muscles and bones are vital to protect us from injuries and disabilities. As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and their function. Furthermore, studies show that regular exercise may help us to build bone density, thus preventing osteoporosis at later life. Regular exercise increases our metabolic rate, which helps us to maintain a healthy body weight. Strong and toned muscles have positive aesthetic benefits too. It’s proven that there is a connection between physical appearance and our confidence, so why not give our confidence a boost and in turn reduce those stress levels!
2. Happiness -
Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. As we know high stress levels have been linked to acne-prone skin so you are doing your body, mind and skin a favor by keeping fit. From my own experience stress is one of the main causes for my blemishes and breakouts. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which lessen feelings of depression. Physical activity increases our body’s production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain. For example, the feeling that follows a workout is often described as "euphoric". A little bit of extra happiness can do wonders to our self-confidence, causing us to focus less on the negatives - woke up with a new pimple? Who cares!
3. Energy -
Do you have enough energy to tackle your daily pursuits? Physical activity combats feelings of fatigue and low energy. Researchers at the University of Georgia note in their study on the topic that “Six weeks of low and moderate exercise training performed by sedentary adults... reporting persistent feelings of fatigue resulted in similarly beneficial effects on feelings of energy.” It’s funny, because the less we move, the more tired we feel! Even a little bit of exercise can be a real energy booster. This means we have more energy to focus on our daily goals, which can be so helpful when it comes to getting fit and improving our skin.
4. Sleep -
I believe that beauty sleep is real. Some studies suggest that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia. A good sleep can lead to better skin as you are giving it time to repair itself. If you aren’t getting a good sleep each night, your body ends up with more inflammation, more backed up toxins, more stress and more cortisol- these things are all possible contributors to acne-prone skin.
How To Start?
While practical concerns like a busy schedule can make regular exercise challenging, for most of us, the biggest hurdles are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that stops you from pushing forward, or your motivation fizzles out at the first setback and you give up. We’ve all been there at some point.
# Set Smaller & Achievable Goals.
If you’re anything like me you set big goals for yourself and overlook the smaller ones. Try setting one long-term goal and then create smaller short term ones to achieve it! This really helped for me. My long term goal was to take an hour long hike every week - I started with a 10 minute walk home after work each day and then built up from there.
Whether it’s deciding to start working out, or increasing the amount of workouts per week - setting and achieving new goals is an incredible feeling. Let’s set some fun-activity-based goals together! Try a tiny task such as taking a 5 minute walk or only using stairs instead of escalators etc... As ridiculous as this might sound the effect can be great. You are able to keep the promises you make to yourself and consequently your self-esteem and confidence rises.
# Fitness Does Not Need to Be Complicated.
In today’s quick-fix culture, it’s surprising that so many people see exercise as such a massive commitment. Remember, a few simple lifestyle changes can still transform your health. That being said, start off simple! Don’t overreach or you will be disappointed when you don’t achieve your goals!
# Do You Make Your Minutes Count?
Even actively not expelling energy on something you know is unhealthy or negative can be beneficial. Two minutes can be more important than you think. For example I decided to begin taking the stairs instead of escalators. This counts for a few minutes of my day max, but every little positive change helps. You can also apply this to a fitness routine by adding 2 minutes to your daily walk or workout each day. It seems like nothing but the build up will show over time.
So, To Recap
Limitations: Just like our skin our body type is unique - it’s dictated by a combination of diet, exercise, and other factors such as sleep and genetics. As a result, it’s not a given that your skin will automatically stop breaking out when you become more physically active - but it may help. Ultimately, you still have to take all aspects of your body’s care into consideration.
The Bottom line: Regular exercise is a great way to de-stress and reduce the negativity we may feel in our daily lives. Unfortunately the skin-body connection is not established very clearly yet. However, feeling stronger in our bodies helps us to feel stronger in our mind. This means that one or two spots no longer seems too much of an issue.
Consistency is key. Keeping fit is a lifestyle change not a quick-fix. There are no magic pills you can use to avoid the need for diet and exercise. Build good fitness habits, incorporate these changes into your routine and stick to them!
Focus on Yourself, Not Your Social Media.
Don’t compare yourself to other people online (this one is super hard for me). Ignore the urge to post your heroic effort to becoming fit in order to get ‘likes’, remember you are doing this for you and no one else. Try to focus instead on the daily challenge of steady improvement.
P.S. Remember to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven't exercised for a long time, or have any chronic health problems.
American Psychiatric Association, Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Major Depression, 2000, and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Pub, 2000.
Anderson / Shivakumar (2013): Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety, in: Frontiers in Psychiatry, 4.
Passos et al. (2011): Effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on chronic primary insomnia, in: Sleep Med., 12 (10), p. 1018 - 1027.
Passos et al. (2010): Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia, in: J Clin Sleep Med., 6 (3), p. 270 - 275.
Puetz et al. (2008): A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Aerobic Exercise Training on Feelings of Energy and Fatigue in Sedentary Young Adults with Persistent Fatigue, in: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 77 (3), p. 167–174.
Sibold, Jeremy S., and Kathy Berg. “Mood Enhancement Persists For Up To 12 Hours Following Aerobic Exercise.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 41, 2009, p. 40.