Thursday, September 09, 2010

circulation - the secret to good skin

i have to start by being really honest. i am not a great exerciser. there. you have it. i don't think i have ever grasped just how important it is though - maybe that's been the problem.

when i was at school i actually did pretty well - once exercise was no longer compulsory i joined the nearest gym - which i loved. you could run for ages whilst watching MTV, relax in the pool and steam rooms after a good session of cross training. and actually when i look back at photos of myself at that time...

Exhibit A:


i don't remember having any problems with my skin. i never worried about it - i was one of the 'lucky' few who didn't have a battle with acne or spots. i always thought it was just good complexion - and a pretty good diet that did it.

then when i went to uni i got more and more interested in healthy eating and food, and i ran every other morning throughout my first year. 

Exhibit B:

and now, although my skin is OK, it's nothing in comparison to what it was. it has more breakouts, and the 'glow' that you get from exercise isn't there naturally... i spend more time on it, put more makeup on it, and just generally fuss about it more.

so what do i learn from looking back at these photos? and what can you also take away with you?
 - exercise is important! 

and not just pilates and yoga dvd's, or a bit of gardening, or a short walk at lunchtime. no, it has to really get your circulation going. otherwise you stagnate. all those bad things in your skin can't get flushed away nearly as quickly, and so you skin breaks out because the circulation isn't working correctly to get rid of the dirt.

when you go for a run or a session on the cross-trainer, you boost your circulation, enabling your body to work at it's best level, it's cleansing level. you let out sweat (essential cleansing! - it's good for you) and if you drink water whilst you do this - which you NEED to - then you'll help the cleansing one step further too.

so that's what i've been doing. stagnating. sitting in my own grime. ew, it's gross, but necessary, because essentially that's what i've been doing. and i think that's probably why loads of people in their early twenties get breakouts more than at school - because they are less active.

obviously it can swing the other way, you can exercise too much! you need to be careful to exercise with a thoroughly cleansed face (with perhaps only a light layer of mineral make-up if you are really self conscious, and a little mascara) so then when you start to get warm and your pores open it won't let in any dirt that's sat on your face. finishing your exercise by jumping in water is usually a great idea, and sitting in a steam room (which gyms often have) is fantastic - or having a hot shower. i always wait until my face has returned to a regular-ish temperature before i rinse it off with water.

there are a few other ways you can improve the circulation without full hardcore body pumping exercise - although it really is the best, as you benefit from so many other benefits at the same time. you can go for a full body massage - it stimulates all the systems under the skin, especially the lymph system (aka, waste disposal unit!) and promotes a fantastic healthy glow. 

body brushing is another way to get this same effect - i've been doing this and have noticed a distinct difference. i once heard someone say that if you have time to brush your teeth, then you have time to brush your body. and it's so true. you just gently sweep the body brush towards your heart in long strokes, in the morning and before bed. it's worth a try, and should be really helpful for those with bumpy skin texture.

so, in conclusion, i think i'd better start running again, what do you think? well, we'll be getting a puppy next week, so soon i'll be forced out of the house to walk for at least 2 hours...perhaps i can break into a run halfway through.