We all have heard of the many benefits that regular exercise has on cardiovascular health, including body weight management, reduction in blood pressure, reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol, increase in good (HDL) cholesterol, and increase in insulin sensitivity.1 But did you know that regular exercise is good for your skin as well?
A group of researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found that after age 40, the men and women who exercised frequently had markedly thinner, healthier stratum corneums (outer layer of the skin) and thicker dermis layers (the living tissue below the epidermis) in their skin. Their skin was much closer in composition to that of the 20- and 30-year-olds than to that of others of their age, even if they were past age 65.
How exercise changes skin composition is not completely clear, but in a separate portion of the study, the researchers checked for alterations in the levels of certain substances created by working muscles. Called myokines, these substances are known to enter the bloodstream and jump-start changes in cells far from the muscles themselves. In this case, the scientists found greatly augmented levels of a myokine called IL-15 in the skin samples of volunteers after exercise. Their skin samples contained almost 50-percent more IL-15 after they had been exercising than at the start of the study. The researchers suspect that additional myokines and other substances are involved in the skin changes related to exercise, making it unlikely that any IL-15 pill, salve, or injection will ever replicate the skin benefits of a workout.
SOURCES: 1) Myers J. Exercise and cardiovascular health. Circulation. 2003;107:e2–e5; 2) Reynolds G. Younger skin through exercise. April 16, 2014. The New York Times site.
September 1, 2017; 3) Crane JD, et al. Exercise-stimulated interleukin-15 is controlled by AMPK and regulates skin metabolism and aging. Aging Cell. 2015 Aug;14(4):625-34. Epub 2015 Apr 22.