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How to stop exercise from ruining your skin

Stuart Miles shares his tips for keeping your glow during your new year's fitness regime.

By Will Stroude

If your skin feels pale, dull and in need of a wake-up call then it’s time to give your skin a workout in the New Year as well as your body. Why not combine the two to ensure that your January fitness regime doesn’t ruin your skin!

Working out impacts all of the major organs in our bodies including the biggest of those, the skin but it is probably the one we consider the least when exercising.

It’s time to think of our skin in the same way as we do our muscles, including our heart, if we want our skin to maintain a youthful elasticity for as long as possible.

It’s not just about slapping on a bit of moisturiser in the morning and thinking, ‘That’s it I’m done’. The skin is a complicated organ that needs to be fed from the inside and nurtured from the outside to keep you looking your best and to provide your body with a protective barrier. 

Here are some of my skin workout tips…

Running, swimming and cycling


Aerobic exercise increases blood flow and hence helps supply oxygen and nutrients to the skin.

A simple bout of exercise also helps flush cellular debris out of the system. You can think of it as cleansing your skin from the inside.

Exercise also improves collagen production, the building blocks of our skin, therefore improving skin texture meaning fewer wrinkles.

Finally, it boosts our immune system in order to fight infection such as skin breakouts and spots.

Always wear freshly washed and breathable fabrics

Dressing in breathable fabrics which allow the sweat to evaporate is so important – if not it can lead to skin problems, causing blocked pores and sweat glands which can lead to outbreaks and spots.

Regular exfoliation when showering will help: One tip is to use a rougher towel when drying off, or a full-body exfoliating scrub once a week.  

If you’ve ever noticed any pink irregular shaped patches on your skin following a work out this can be caused by a fungal infection of the skin.

They’re quite harmless and common and are aggravated by sweat, which is why it is so important to shower immediately after you have been working out. 

Protect your skin from the inside 

Working out can actually put our skin under a great deal of stress. Touching the face with dirty sweaty hands or over rubbing it with sweat towels can mean our skin is under attack.

Helping your skin stay strong by providing a barrier to this will really help. You should make sure you are taking adequate Vitamin E which is great antioxidant that provides skin with barrier protection and improves smoothness. Almonds are a great source.

Also, Vitamin C to protect your skin, stimulate collagen and serve as an anti-inflammatory. Adequate hydration is also key so keep drinking water, not after but during your workout.

Avoid stretch marks

Stretch marks are formed on the skin when we bulk up too quickly. Any rapid increase in muscle tissue means the skin can’t keep up with it.

It is very common in body builders but for those of us who want to build muscle the key is to not make any sudden weight gains or losses. The skin will adapt if the growth is gradual. Don’t skip your cardio routines when muscle building as they will help keep your muscle gains controlled.

Using oil on your skin post work out is good too as it will help the skin become more pliable in key areas prone to stretch marks like the thighs, buttocks and biceps – and if you find someone else to rub it in you’re winning!

Stuart Miles is the the UK’s leading ageing expert, founder of and host of the ‘How to Age Well’ podcast series.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mrmilesyounger.