How does exercise impact the skin?

Female torso with sweat after exercising

Working out and breaking a sweat can be a great way to improve your body and your overall wellbeing, but how does it affect the skin? The body’s largest organ is the skin, so the lifestyle choices and decisions you make can directly impact it, including exercise.


When you have finished your exercise for the day and cooled down, you will notice that your skin is glowing and radiant. When you work out your body and your skin receives increased blood flow. The increased blood flow provides nutrients and oxygen to the cells in your skin and helps to remove impurities, creating that “glow”.

Exercise can help to manage sleep regulation and stress levels. Sometimes the appearance of the skin can come across as dull with darker under eyes. By exercising daily, you are more likely to have a fully rested sleep and bring down stress levels, helping to improve the appearance of the skin.


Most of the time, sweat is released from your skin when exercising and it is a great way to release built-up impurities. However, sweat can also clog pores and cause breakouts on your face and other areas of your body, especially if you are wearing makeup.

To avoid the negative effects of sweating, make sure that you do the following when exercising.

  • Fabrics – Before you work out, make sure that you are wearing the correct workout clothing. Look for materials that are “moisture-wicking” to pull the sweat away from your skin and allow you to dry quickly. This can help to cool down the body temperature and prevent pores from getting clogged with bacteria from sweat.

Keep in mind that tighter fitting clothing can also rub against the skin when exercising and cause irritation, so looser clothing may be a better option.

  • Clean – Before you sit down to relax after your workout, make sure you hop in the shower to clear the skin of oils, bacteria and sweat. If they stay on the skin, they can cause the pores in your skin to become clogged and create rashes or acne.

If you can’t shower, then try to wash your face and other areas on your body that tend to break out with a cleanser or cleansing pads. Be sure to change into clean clothes after you have washed because your workout clothes hold all of the same bacteria that you just cleaned away.

Skin protection

If you decide to exercise outdoors, you should apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body, no matter what the weather. It is a good idea to use a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and apply at least every 2 hours if you plan to stay outside for a long time.

You are likely to sweat during your outdoor exercise, so make sure your sunscreen is a water-resistant formula, so you don’t have to continuously apply it. When applying sunscreen to your face, make sure it is water-resistant and oil-free to prevent it from dripping off with sweat or clogging your pores, the same way makeup would.