Aside from losing weight and looking tighter and more toned, there are many beauty benefits to be gained from exercising. You start feeling good from within, and that eventually manifests on the outside.
Glowing, Radiant Skin
According to Audrey Kunin, MD, a dermatologist in Kansan City, MO (author of The DERMAdoctor Skinstruction Manual), working up a sweat is the equivalent of getting a mini-facial. When your pores dilate, sweat gets rid of trapped dirt and oil. That’s why it’s important to wash your face after a good workout so that the dirt and other gunk don’t get pulled back into the pores.Exercise also helps reduce inflammation across the whole body, helps regulate hormones and prevents free-radical damage to skin. Exercising gets your blood flowing which allows more oxygen-rich blood to reach your skin’s surface and deliver nutrients that repair damage from the sun and other free radicals. As we age, our body’s ability to produce collagen slows down and our fibroblasts (the cells that produce collagen in the skin) get lazier and their numbers dwindle. Working out helps these fibroblasts to stay active thus helping our skin look younger and more radiant. It also helps prevent wrinkling and fights acne.
For some reason, exercise greatly improves posture. Some people have reported getting taller after months or even years of practicing yoga, pilates, or other similar exercises. It could be that as you exercise regularly and strengthen your muscles, you are able to correct your posture and this may ‘add’ some height. Dan Bradley, MD, an ortophedic surgeon at the Texas Back Institute in Denton, Texas says that actively working your muscles back into balance will lengthen your back, improve your posture, and help you grow taller. People who either have a tendency to hunch or have swayed backs benefit greatly from core strengthening exercises like planks, farmer’s walks, and bird dogs. Upper body strengthening using resistance bands, free weights, and machines can help restore height for those who hunch their shoulders. Also, better posture gives off an appearance of confidence thereby making you look fitter and somewhat leaner.
Fight Stress and Anxiety
We all know how exhausting it is to deal with anxiety and stress. It drains all the fun out of things and just turns us into a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer. Anxiety and fearfulness immediately shows on your face and your overall body language and posture. It robs you of a smile on your face and the spring in your step. Exercise has long been touted as the best way to lift your mood and help get rid of stress and can alleviate most cases of mild to moderate anxiety.
Jack Raglin, PhD, a sport psychologist at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, conducted a study whose results suggest that even as little as 15 minutes of exercise can produce a calm that can tide you over for hours. Any aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping such as running, cycling, swimming, HIIT or Tabata, can give you that result. Even better if you mix up your cardio with strength training.
A British study found that people who began a regular workout program felt better about their self-worth, their overall health, and their physical condition compared to their peers who stayed home. What’s interesting is that their self-worth soared up immediately even before they could notice big changes in their bodies. It’s no secret that confident people give off an aura of charisma and are simply more physically appealing. But you don’t need to drastically change your physical appearance just to feel more confident. “Our self-worth (or idea of it) is mostly tied to our energy levels, our feelings of competence and perceived attractiveness,” that’s according to Adrian Taylor, PhD, an exercise researcher at the University of Exeter in England. Nothing is more appealing and attractive than a confidence and self-assurance which come from feeling comfortable and feeling good in your own skin.
Working out helps your body’s ability to produce natural killer cells. More white blood cells mean fewer bacteria and viruses can invade your system. You don’t get that worn-out look that most people get when they’re under the weather and your wounds and cuts and blemishes tend to heal faster. Our body has about 500 lymph nodes–nodules of tissue that get rid of metabolic junk. These nodes need the help of nearby muscles in order to perform optimally. When muscles contract during a workout, they put the pressure on the lymph nodes thereby helping them get rid of waste in our system. Exercise helps keep the lymph system on the up and up and you end up looking less bloated. Better lymph drainage and better white cell production are helped by increased circulation–a result of regular exercise (the kind that makes you breathe hard and exert effort). Your heart could pump more blood with cardio activity than if you were just sitting at your computer or TV, and this means you are able to bring more oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the rest of your body.
This is especially for you insomniacs and night-owls. During a couple of extremely stressful months, I struggled so much with sleep. I would pop a melatonin before bed and that would be the only way I could sleep at all. A good workout enhances your body’s sensitivity to cortisol (stress hormone), which enhances sleep. That’s why you crave more rest and recovery time after a heavy workout session. When you are facing a stressful situation, the body starts producing cortisol to help you muscles fight or flee. But if you’re unable to physically work that stress out, your cortisol stays in your bloodstream. This is even worse if the stress you undergo is constant and chronic because it will start to dull your body’s cellular receptors. When your body isn’t as sensitive to the cortisol, it causes your adrenal glands to produce even more. Yikes. What happens next is you end up staying up all night and looking awful for it the next morning. Think of exercise as a release for cortisol, thereby helping you achieve more restful and sound sleep at night when your body is able to use the downtime to repair muscle tissue which will help you look and feel better the next day.
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