We hit the gym for a number of reasons, from strength and energy to training for a marathon and taking a much-needed mental break.
But the benefits of exercise extend far beyond a slimmer waistline and enviable biceps: Getting your heart pumping is one of the keys to a gorgeous complexion.
Take it from Dr. Maura Romita, a board-certified plastic surgeon and the founder of Ajune Center for Beauty Synergy in New York City:
Exercise, she writes, “nourishes your skin, bringing more blood flow and oxygen to it.” Working up a sweat also helps “draw toxins out of the body” and “correct the hormonal imbalance that can cause adult acne.”
Ready to lace up those sneakers? Here are 10 of the leading exercises for luminous skin:
Downward-facing dog, darling? You bet. Most yoga classes include inversions, a sustained pose in which blood flow is temporarily reversed, which gives your skin a rejuvenating, beautifying boost.
What’s more, Kapal Bhati—which literally means “forehead” and “glowing”—encourages detoxification through monitored breathing.
And who can argue with the calming effects that yoga has on the nervous system? Such soothing is reflected in your complexion, leading to better elasticity and fewer stress-induced wrinkles.
2. Resistance Training
We’ve all heard that resistance training is crucial in warding off osteoporosis, not to mention that oh-so-stubborn muffin top.
But resistance training is also a win for wrinkles: According to celebrity trainer Dalton Wong, resistance training—from planks and push ups to lunges and crunches—tones muscles and skin and reduces cellulite. In other words, get down and give yourself twenty.
Whether you’re up at 6 am for a Spin class or taking a leisurely Sunday ride with your family, bicycling is more than one girl’s not-so-hushed beauty secret. From enhanced digestion to more restful sleep, the benefits of biking ought to encourage plenty of gals to get themselves some wheels.
Or, listen to the pros: Scientists at Stanford have found that cycling promotes cellular regeneration and diminishes the signs of aging. Just remember to slather on an organic and non-toxic SPF before reaching for your helmet.
There’s no better time than now to don that suit and dive into the water. Swimming is inarguably one of the best exercises you can do for your overall health and well-being, from toning nearly every muscle in your body to improving cardiovascular fitness.
In other words, get wet to get svelte—and prettify your skin while you’re at it.
Pro tip: Swimming is especially promising for those who suffer from rosacea, since, according to Dr. Ellen Marmur (and author of Simple Skin Beauty; Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin), “the water keeps skin cool even when you build up body temperature.”
Ever cried in a yoga or stretch class? There’s a reason behind those tears: Fascia, the collagen-based connective tissue that encases your muscles and other soft tissues, is known to store past traumas.
That release of toxic emotions has an impact on the quality of your skin, which, as the body’s largest organ, is one of the first parts of the physical body to reveal anxiety, stress and depression.
From burning off last night’s sundae splurge to building some serious team spirit, volleyball is the va-va-voom of competitive sports—and, we’d hazard to guess, one of the reasons why Gabrielle Reece seems to be perpetually glowing.
Why? With intense blasts of cardio, this beachy fave boosts your heart rate—and a healthy ticker is synonymous with whole body beauty. Join a team or grab some friends for an impromptu game, sand court optional.
Whether swinging some Hula moves, or perfecting your relevé in cardio ballet, dancing is one of the most exhilarating ways to get your glow on.
This is due to the stress-relieving effects dancing has on your overall well-being. When stressed, our nervous systems react in more ways than one, including worsening inflammation.
Gyms around the country offer inspired twists on dance and fitness classes like Zumba, barre, Jazzercise, and the list goes on.
Surfer girls are famous for their radiant complexions for reasons far beyond their steady levels of Vitamin D: Surfing (with SPF) is superb for the skin, in part because the abdominal pressure promotes detoxification.
What’s more, the repetition of paddling at the core of surfing could prevent premature aging. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario report that when mice “were given access to running wheels, they maintained healthy brains, hearts, muscles, reproductive organs, and far longer than their sedentary lab-mates.”
Just in case we needed another incentive to take a splash.
9. Tai Chi
Often called “meditation in motion,” Tai Chi is a boon for beauty. With its concentration on blending movement with breath, it promotes a more tranquil and balanced nervous system (read: calmer, smoother skin).
Bonus points: This ancient Chinese practice boosts lower body strength, leaving you properly prepped for our final suggestion.
Tramp through the trails on a regular basis and you’re bound to see a difference in your skin. True, excessive exposure to the sun, particularly without SPF, is one of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to skin health and vitality.
But the combination of fresh air and sunshine cleanses the body, mind and spirit better than any high-end exfoliator.
As Mind Body Green reports, “exposing our skin to sunlight is one of the most alkalizing things we can do for our health.”
Additionally, hiking (and walking) aids in digestion. “Among other functions,” Mind Body Green says, “our digestive system is the main place where we absorb beauty nutrients from our foods, as well as the main place where we dispel toxins through elimination. If the digestive system isn’t working optimally, breakouts, eczema, redness and dull skin can ensue.”
Break out those boots for brilliant skin—and savor some soul-satisfying views along the way.