Can Working Out Help Clear Acne?

As you're probably aware, working out can have a number of positive benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can decrease feelings of anxiety and depression while improving your mind's functioning. Because endorphins are released during physical activity, many also report that they just feel better after hitting the gym. Obviously, there are also many physical health benefits, including that it can help you maintain a healthy weight, make your bones and muscles stronger, lower your blood pressure, and contribute to good heart health. Additionally, because of all of these amazing outcomes, those who regularly exercise typically have an improved quality of life and a higher likelihood of living longer. 

Perhaps you've also heard that working out can benefit your skin and even clear your acne. Or, maybe you've heard the opposite, that physical activity can worsen acne or cause breakouts. Below, you'll discover which one of these statements is true.

Does working out improve or worsen acne?

Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer, as both of these scenarios can be true. If your acne seems to improve with regular physical activity, your breakouts may be worsened by stress. On the other hand, if you experience more acne after working out, this is probably because you don't take the necessary precautions to keep your skin clear.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, working out can sometimes clear acne because exercise reduces stress, increases blood flow (which encourages new skin growth), and decreases inflammation. Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers adds that high intensity exercises that cause you to sweat can open up your pores, which can help you to get rid of dirt and oils that cause pimples. If you suspect that your acne is caused by stress, you may want to focus on soothing exercises like yoga, while those that believe their skin needs more circulation may want to try out exercises that elevate their heartbeat.

On the other hand, things like oil, bacteria, dirt, and sweat, which are produced while working out, can clog pores and cause breakouts. Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid acne after working out.

Ways to avoid workout-related breakouts

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, before you begin any physical activity, it's important to gently remove your makeup. You should also change into clean clothes, especially if you often experience acne on areas other than your face, and opt for loose-fitting clothing rather than those that cling to your body. If you're exercising outside, it's crucial that you apply sunscreen, as the sun can dry out your skin and cause it to produce excess oil. Those with long hair should put it up, since the oils from your hair could cause a breakout as well, per Apotheco.

Greatist explains that those who regularly swim should moisturize well, since chlorine can dry out your skin and cause it to produce more oil than normal. After your workout, it's best to immediately shower, change your clothes, and wash your face with a gentle cleanser. The key is to not let sweat sit on your skin for an extended period of time, as this could trap oil and bacteria inside your pores.