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Need an excuse to go the gym? There's a whole host of beautifying benefits that come from regular exercise
Maybe you’re driven by the desire to lose weight, tone your thighs, shape your shoulders or flatten your belly? Maybe you work out to ward off the big killers like heart disease, diabetes or cancer?
But have you ever considered the powerful effects of exercise on your skin or hair? How about your libido or sleeping patterns? Take a look at the buffet of beautifying benefits that come from regular exercise and, next time you’re searching for that extra incentive to lace up those sneakers, if they can’t get you moving we’re not sure what can!
1. Get an instant glow
Forget fancy lotions and expensive potions, exercise is one of the best ways to nourish and revitalise tired skin cells. Before you invest in another treatment mask, try taking a brisk walk or jog. By getting your heart pumping and increasing circulation your skin receives a delicious dose of oxygenated blood that boosts detoxification and cell renewal. Did someone say gorgeous post-workout glow? “We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant,” says dermatologist Ellen Marmur, author of Simple Skin Beauty.
2. Reduce cellulite
Besides whipping your prized pegs into a shapely silhouette, yoga might help smooth out those spongy thighs. “Cellulite is a symptom of reduced lymph circulation,” says Atma JoAnn Levitt, head of the integrative weight-loss program at the Kripalu Centre for Yoga and Health. For those of you who skipped biology class, lymph is the bodily fluid that contains white blood cells. According to Levitt ,“Yoga helps lymph flow more freely through fatty areas, flushing toxins and reducing cellulite.” Inversions, or upside-down poses, are especially good. If you want something new – try Putkisto (p.76).
3. Lift your libido
If your libido has been lacking lately, it might be time to hit the gym. No, not to scope out the buff bodybuilders; even without the eye candy, working out will have a physiological and psychological effect on your sex drive. Regular aerobic exercise and strength training can increase your stamina, improve your body image, elevate your mood and enhance your libido.
4. Reverse the ageing process
Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can be an instant way to blow off tension by boosting levels of soothing brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What's fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse the toll of stress on our ageing process. In a study conducted in 2011, researchers from the University of California found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed significantly fewer signs of ageing compared to women who were stressed and not active.
5. Sleep better
The National Sleep Foundation reports that exercise in the afternoon can help deepen shut-eye and cut the time it takes for you to fall into dreamland. They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing, either! In deep sleep the body secretes a growth hormone that helps repair and rebuild body tissues, playing a big part in maintaining collagen matrix and promoting that glow of youthfulness that comes from a great night’s sleep.
6. Combat spots
Don’t let dermatological conditions like acne, rosacea or psoriasis keep you cooped up on the couch. Raising a sweat actually helps flush cellular debris out of the system, correcting the hormonal imbalances that can cause adult acne. Of course, if you’re prone to spots and blemishes, experts encourage a few extra skincare steps to make sure your complexion gets more bang for its buck. “Make sure you keep gentle, fragrance-free cleansing wipes in your gym bag, drink plenty of water as you exercise to avoid dehydration and above all, never work out wearing make-up,” says Annet King, the director of training and education at Dermalogica. “If you’re an exercise junkie and also suffer from adult acne, try to incorporate some yoga into your routine to bring down your stress adrenal hormonal levels. This will help clear the skin, because stress hormones and acne are very much related,” she says.
7. Enjoy luscious locks
Looks like your locks might benefit from a good workout too. Go from lacklustre to luscious without sitting for several hours at the salon. Regular exercise improves blood flow to your scalp, keeping your hair stronger and healthier. Your hair follicles are nourished by the oxygen-rich blood flow that rushes antioxidants to the area, destroying free radicals before they can damage your hair. “Exercise is also a big stress reliever,” says Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer and physiologist Amy Dixon. “Lower stress means your hair is less likely to be brittle or, worse, fall out.”