We all know that leading an active lifestyle is great for your health and wellbeing, but there are times when exercise can actually be detrimental to the health of your skin.
We're talking about the effect of oxidative stress.
First of all, what is oxidative stress?
Did you know your body has a constant battle going on within it? Yep, every day your cells are constantly producing antioxidants to fight off damaging molecules called free-radicals that are produced as a by-product of normal bodily functions (eg. breathing, running etc.), as well as environmental sources (eg. UV rays, smoke, radiation etc.).
Clever thing, your body is.
However, there are times when the production of free-radicals exceeds the amount of antioxidants your body is able to produce in defence, and the excess of free-radicals unfortunately causes damage to your body's cells (unfair, we know!).
This damage is called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress plays a huge role in premature ageing of the skin, and an active lifestyle puts you in the higher-risk category for three main reasons:
1. Strenuous exercise.
Although studies have shown that regular physical activity actually improves the body's defence against oxidative stress, strenuous exercise, and especially exercise that causes damage to muscle tissue, activates the body's immune response which is one of the major sources of free-radical production in the body.
When the body recognises tissue damage, it triggers the production of free-radicals to eliminate the pathogen or cause of the damage in order to return the cells to a normal state and/or repair them. However, the free-radicals produced by the immune system oxidise in the body and cause damage to neighbouring healthy cells, which then generate inflammation.
Inflammation in the body has an immense effect on the skin, revealing itself not only through various signs of skin ageing (dryness, dullness, pigmentation, a weak barrier function, degradation of collagen, wrinkles etc.), but also through skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and acne.
2. UV damage
There's nothing more invigorating than exercising outdoors, however, even just that morning walk around the block can play havoc with your skin. UV rays from the sun is the number one source of free-radical-induced skin damage, causing premature skin aging, pigmentation and skin cancer. Protecting your skin when outside is a must, even on cloudy days, as UV rays can actually be intensified due to reflection off the clouds.
And don't even get us started on water activities and beach sports (as much as we love them!). UV rays combined with salt water reminds us of that horrifying and heartbreaking scene when a dry, shrivelled up Spongebob and Patrick were saying their last words under that heat lamp... poor little guys.
3. Air pollution
Yep, unfortunately that morning walk also exposes you to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) from car exhaust fumes, which bind to particulate matter in the air rendering them toxic, and are then absorbed by the skin resulting in oxidative stress, skin aging, as well as skin cancer from long-term exposure. Not only this, but they also cause the proliferation of melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) resulting in unwanted skin pigmentation.
And, we bet you never considered the effects of indoor air pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the level of indoor air pollutants are often 2-5 times higher than outdoors! The main sources are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from indoor furnishings, furniture, equipment, plastics, cleaning chemicals, etc., all being recycled through your gym's air-conditioners without proper ventilation. Absorption of VOCs through the skin has been shown to cause inflammatory and allergic reactions.
What can we do about oxidative stress and skin ageing?
Of course, the amount of induced oxidative stress and inflammation depends on factors such as exercise duration, intensity, fitness condition and general health of the individual, but nutritional antioxidants have been proven to neutralise free-radicals and repair oxidised membranes.
Feeding your body with antioxidant-rich foods and nourishing your skin with easily-absorbed, antioxidant-rich treatments is the way to go. All PB SKN products contain optimum levels of active antioxidants obtained from natural plant sources, which we believe to be the most beneficial to your skin's health.