Swellness Blog


How Running Benefits Your Skin

fitness wellness Mar 25, 2024
how running benefits skin

Photo by Sarah Chai

Skin health is a lot like a marathon — the finish line is a glowy, clear face that takes work to achieve. Great skin is within arm's reach when you start running. Here is how the power of circulation and balanced physiology helps you achieve a glorious complexion you're proud of. 

The Power of Circulation

Most people feel the physical symptoms of poor circulation, such as weak or painful muscles, numbness, swelling or cold fingers and toes. However, much more goes on inside your body than you realize.

Jumpstarting blood flow by running can help prevent cardiovascular conditions and reduce pain and discomfort. Perhaps most surprising is the skin health benefits. Circulation transports oxygen and nutrients to skin cells while eliminating toxins and debris for a glowing complexion. Runners also drink more to stay hydrated, which aids this process.

Water makes up 50%-75% of your body weight and is critical for physiological functions, like maintaining skin moisture and protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and other types of damage.

4 Ways Running Benefits Your Skin

Running is a great way to improve your physical and mental health from the inside out. If you want radiant skin, this moderate-intensity exercise makes a difference in these four ways.

1. Reduces Breakouts

Acne affects 9.4% of the global population and may last until your 50s. Studies show severe acne causes emotional distress, depression, anxiety and poor self-image. Some people isolate themselves to avoid being seen during flare-ups.

Sweating and exposure to environmental pollutants may seem counterintuitive to achieving flawless skin, but the increased circulation flushes out acne-causing impurities for clearer skin.

2. Decreases Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Older adults who run get a collagen boost to decrease fine lines and wrinkles. A study of 61 healthy adult women with sedentary lifestyles showed improved collagen production and skin elasticity with aerobic and resistance exercise. 

The extra collagen has other benefits in addition to skin health, such as lubricating connective tissues and joints to reduce stress impacts and your risk of injury during runs. 

3. Prevents Inflammation

A running regimen may reduce puffiness or skin inflammation. Many environmental and physiological factors lead to skin conditions — such as psoriasis and eczema — and your lifestyle habits exacerbate or ease the effect. 

Those who are overweight or obese may be more susceptible to skin inflammation — this is because the lymphatic vessels don't function correctly with a high-fat diet. Running aids weight loss and weight management, preventing a prolonged inflammatory response.

4. Lowers Stress Hormones

If you have chronic stress and anxiety, running can make a difference in your mood — promoting healthier, clearer skin simultaneously. Stress hormones activate the sebum glands to create more oil and worsen acne, redness and common skin conditions.

Instead, running can hinder cortisol and adrenaline hormones and stimulate endorphins. People often refer to this relaxing state as the "runner's high." If you notice stress-related acne breakouts, consider going for a brisk jog.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Tips for Post-Run Skin Care

Although running benefits skin health, you'll want to adopt a cleansing ritual to keep your complexion clear and dirt-free. Wash your face in the morning, evening and after exercising with a gentle cleanser. This is particularly important if you run outside, as ozone and other air contaminants cause significant skin damage over time.

Likewise, you can reduce your risk of skin cancer by 40% when you wear sunscreen while running. Even on a cloudy day, you may not realize how powerful and damaging UV rays are on your skin cells. In 2020, UV rays caused 1.2 million non-melanoma skin cancer cases and 325,000 melanoma cases. Of these, there were a combined 121,000 premature deaths.

Of course, staying hydrated and consulting with a dermatologist is essential for improving your skin. A medical specialist may prescribe an ointment to heal and protect your skin long-term.

Sprint Your Way to Healthier Skin

Running benefits every aspect of your health and well-being, including skin health. Start slowly and work your way toward glowing, radiant skin.