Which Exercise is Best For My Skin Condition?

Which Exercise is Best For My Skin Condition?

Written by Phillip Bayer BHSc.Nat

As practitioners we see many patients wanting to incorporate optimal dietary and lifestyle habits in order to improve their skin health. Exercise is certainly an important part of a healthy routine to support chronic skin disease, not only to enhance physical wellbeing, but also for the mental benefits as well. When it comes to your skin health, the type of exercise and the environment you are exercising in are equally as important. See my below tips on which exercise is best for different skin conditions, to help you increase your fitness without the flaring.

Urticaria

If you have a heat-induced urticaria, avoid all forms of hot (intense) exercise and stick to very gentle exercise in the cool time of the day, being careful to remain within your limits to avoid exacerbating the flare. Opt for low intensity where the heart rate does not exceed approximately 110 BPM

Eczema

For eczemas and other allergic conditions where there is an inhalant allergy to pollen/ dust/ grasses and/or native plants, particular care must be taken to avoid exercise during pollination/ spring and when the wind is blowing. Exposure to those allergens may exacerbate your flare-up. During those times, exercising indoors may be a better option. Keep your windows and doors closed.

Psoriasis

In psoriasis, avoid exercise which may press or rub on lesions on contact points of the body, such as the elbows or the knees. Examples can include contact sports, weights or rowing (if hands are affected) and exercises that may involve helmets (if the hairline or scalp are affected). Friction and injury can both induce and exacerbate psoriasis lesions due to what is referred to as the Koebner Phenomenon.

If your skin is flaring but the lesions are not very red/ burning or very itchy, you can increase the intensity of exercise but again be careful to exercise in the cool time of the day and avoid strong direct sunshine on the skin. Chronic plaque psoriasis can often occur alongside comorbidities such as obesity and cardiovascular disease and therefore cardiovascular exercise can be very beneficial.

It is best to avoid swimming in chlorinated pools during a flare of any skin condition, but you may find swimming in the sea or a mineral pool helpful.

As always, listen to your body and discontinue exercise if your skin starts to feel worse – know your limits.

Skin Flaring? Keep your cool

Heat can be a common trigger of skin flaring and itching.

As a general rule, stick to doing exercise in the coolest time of the day, such as early morning or early evening when the sun is low.

If you are having an acute flare of your condition, and your skin is red, hot, burning or intensely itchy, abstain from heavy cardiovascular exercise. If you feel up to it, a gentle walk or stretching exercises such as yoga or Pilates is more suitable during this time. Avoid tight fitness wear where possible and opt for loose fitting clothes instead.

A cool shower or bath after exercise is a good way to cool down quickly and limit the risk of exacerbating your condition. Using a fan during exercise if the ambient temperature is warm can also help.

The Importance of Adequate Hydration

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“Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. Water is also required for digestion, absorption, transportation, dissolving nutrients, elimination of waste products and thermoregulation” (regulation of body temperature) (Kleiner, 1999).Hydration fact sheet- facebook (1)

cucumber-salad-food-healthy-37528mineral-water-lime-ice-mint-158821Key Facts 

Up to 2 litres of Water is lost daily due to bodily functions, such as perspiration, respiration, urination and defecation.

Diuretic substances in your diet such as caffeinated beverages, alcohol, high sugar and salty foods will increase water loss from the body.

Water requirements range from 8-10 glasses per day depending on diet and physical activity levels. As we age, we have a diminished sense of thirst and tend to drink less fluid, although water is still required. It is therefore important to ensure we drink an adequate amount of water, even in the absence of thirst.

Water can be consumed from drinking pure water as well as from eating certain foods. Depending on diet, up to 50% of your daily water intake can be derived from foods provided they are high in water content such as fruit, salad, soup and vegetables (i.e. iceberg lettuce and cucumber).

How dehydration impacts your skin condition

Key signs of mild to moderate dehydration include increased sensation of pexels-photo-136871pain, thirst, stiffness, headaches, lack of concentration, fatigue and skin problems.

The skin contains approximately 30% water. “Water intake, particularly in individuals with low initial water intake, can improve skin thickness and density and offsets transepidermal water loss (water lost through the skin surface)” (Popkin, Rosenberg & D’Anci, 2010). Hydration improves skin resiliency, elasticity and texture.

The water content in the skin contributes to important functions of the skin such as the development of a healthy skin barrier. The skin barrier guards the skin from microbial infections and infiltration of foreign substances which can cause skin flare ups.

Water deficiency can also lead to impaired skin processes, which can then worsen skin disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and rosacea (Rodrigues, Palma, Tavares Marques & Bujan Varela, 2015).

Key tips to keeping hydrated

Create a routine: If you aren’t used to drinking water on a regular basis, start with four glasses of water a day. One glass on rising, one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon and one on retiring. This eliminates 4 out 8 glasses per day. Once you establish this routine, start adding additional glasses of water throughout the day, for example before meals

Convenience: Keep water with you at all times. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at work, in your car, and to take with you when you go on walks etc. Get used to sipping on water as part of your daily routine. Convenience is key, otherwise if it’s out of sight, it’s often out of mind!

Flavour: If you don’t like the taste of water, there are several ways to make it more enticing. Add some fresh herbs like mint, or fresh fruit, or a very small amount of juice (just enough to add a hint of flavour).

Variety: Mix up your water variety and add in some natural sparkling mineral water.

Eat foods high in water content: Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, in doing so will assist in keeping your body hydrated (this information should not replace any dietary information given by your psoriasis eczema clinic practitioner).

Be aware of cravings: if you are craving salty foods as this can be a signal from the body that you are dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water before reaching for salty foods.

For more information on the health benefits of water and charts for daily consumption visit: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/water

Reference:

  1. Popkin, B., Rosenberg, I., & D’Anci, K. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. National Institute of Health68(8), 439–458. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
  2. Kleiner, S. (1999). Water. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association99(2), 200-206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0002-8223(99)00048-6
  3. Rodrigues, L., Palma, L., Tavares Marques, L., & Bujan Varela, J. (2015). Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology4(411), 413. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/ccid.s86822