A recent Japanese study divided a gaggle of 61 healthy, sedentary, middle-aged women into two groups who exercised twice per week for 16 weeks—one group did only an aerobic training program, the opposite only a resistance training program using weight machines—in an try to differentiate the consequences of every kind of training on the skin.
“The effects of aerobic training and resistance training on our body are known to be different, i.e., resistance training specifically induces muscle hypertrophy [increased muscle size], whereas aerobic training improves cardiovascular fitness,” says Satoshi Fujita, PhD, study co-author and professor with the Faculty of Sport and Health Science at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. “So, we hypothesized that aerobic training and resistance training have different effects on skin as well.”
At the tip of the study’s 16 weeks, each groups experienced improved skin elasticity and upper dermal structure, however the group who solely did weight training also had improved dermal thickness. That’s necessary since the dermis—an elastic support structure lying just underneath the skin’s outer layer (epidermis) that comprises nerves, blood vessels, and glands—thins progressively over time, contributing to skin sagginess and other signs of damage and tear.
Experts In This Article
- Amy McClung, MD, Amy McClung, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas.
- Satoshi Fujita, PhD, Satoshi Fujita, PhD, is a researcher and professor with the Faculty of Sport and Health Science at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.
“This is pretty exciting research since aging causes a deterioration of the dermis, including decrease in elasticity and reduce in dermal thickness,” says Amy McClung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. “In the study, resistance training increased dermal thickness by increasing or decreasing various factors that contributed to dermal thickness, fairly than thinning.”
How exercise impacts skin appearance
When we exercise, our bodies produce increased or decreased levels of various cytokines (proteins that aid in cell-to-cell communication), hormones, metabolites, and other aspects that affect skin makeup, explains McClung. When blood samples from study participants were analyzed in the beginning and end of the training programs, each aerobic and resistance training caused the production of things that reduce inflammation and increase the expression of genes that influence production of collagen and other skin proteins.
However, the particular aspects each kind of training produced differed. Most notably, only resistance training produced aspects that increased the production of skin proteins including biglycan. Researchers theorized that the rise in biglycan with resistance training may explain why only this sort of training led to increased dermal thickness.
“Biglycan is a very important component of skin protein known to diminish with age” and sun exposure, says Dr. Satoshi, noting that, in animal studies, mice who didn’t produce the protein had thinner dermises.
The skin advantages of exercising as a part of your beauty routine
You’re probably considering, okay, all that is great but how much weightlifting do I want to do to make my skin look higher? While study participants worked out twice per week doing three sets of 10 reps of progressively heavier loads on six weight-stack machines—leg curl, leg extension, arm curl, row, shoulder press, and chest press—Dr. Satoshi says it might be possible to see results even without that much training.
“We consider that less resistance training also has an effect on the skin as muscle hypertrophy was not the most important factor for skin improvement,” he says. “However, to induce an anti-inflammatory effect, we recommend weight training that works the larger muscles of the body, preferably each upper and lower body muscles.”
Although study participants used weight machines, resistance training could be done with bands, kettlebells, and even your individual body weight. And make sure that to also incorporate aerobic training which is able to profit your cardiovascular system along along with your skin health, advises Dr. McClurg.