Can Working Out Really Reduce Acne?

Can working out really reduce acne? We know that working up a sweat can do wonders for our skin, but can it actually help to clear up acne? Let’s find out!


Exercising not only helps us stay physically fit, it can have an incredibly positive effect on our overall wellbeing. While it’s long been established that regular physical activity can help reduce stress and boost mental health, there is a lesser-known benefit that comes with working out—it may help prevent and alleviate acne.

Increasing studies have found that exercise and acne have a reciprocal relationship. Proper skin care and healthy diet can be the key to keeping acne at bay, but exercising may play an important role as well. Exercise helps reduce inflammation in the body, which could contribute to a reduction in blemishes. Working up a sweat also releases toxins from the body, so they don’t linger around the skin where pesky breakouts may occur.

However, not all exercise is good for your skin—high intensity workouts could potentially produce more sebum (skin oil), which enhances the possibility of breakouts; whereas low intensity activities promote a healthy flow of blood to the cells of your skin. So, how does one know whether working out can really reduce their acne? In this article we will examine both sides of this argument and try to find out what type of exercise might be best for keeping your skin looking clear and healthy.

How Exercise Affects Acne

In recent years, there has been a growing body of research indicating that regular exercise may play a role in the fight against acne. While working out can help to reduce stress, regulate hormones, and improve circulation and nutrient delivery to skin cells, it can also cause skin irritation and sweat-induced breakouts. To understand how exercise impacts acne, let’s take a closer look at the effects of exercise on the skin.

Sweat and Acne

It is widely believed that working up a sweat can increase the risk of breakouts and aggravate existing acne. Sweat itself does not cause acne, but sweat combined with dirt, bacteria and oil can lead to clogged pores. Additionally, friction caused by clothes that are too tight and don’t allow the skin to breathe can create pressure against facial skin resulting in further irritation.

For those who already suffer from frequent breakouts, it is recommended to remove all forms of contaminants from pores after exercise including sweat, dirt and oil. Cleaning your face immediately after exercising will help minimize the chances for inflammation or other forms of dermatitis. To reduce contact between fabric or equipment as much as possible, it’s helpful to wear breathable gym clothes that don’t rub against your skin such as loose-fitted shirts with cotton fabric or shorts with mesh linings.

There are also some exercises that may aggravate acne more than others due to contact between the body and equipment. With sports such as weight lifting and boxing where you frequently grip weights or handles with sweaty hands, this contact may increase inflammation in areas prone to breakouts. Additionally, activities such as yoga where poses involve pressing against a mat with high amounts of moisture on the skin may cause further irritation. To reduce these risks it’s important to practice good hygiene following any type of workout by promptly washing arms, face and any other body part affected by sweat during exercise.

Stress and Acne

Stress is a major contributing factor for acne. High stress levels can cause the body to produce more androgen hormones that stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to an increase in oil production, which can eventually lead to breakouts. Exercise can help reduce stress and other psychological factors of acne. Exercise releases endorphins, or chemicals produced by the brain, which are known to regulate moods and reduce stress. In addition, exercise can increase your physical health and improve self-esteem, which may also aid in reducing acne outbreaks.

However, exercising too much may be counterproductive for reducing acne breakouts. Exercise places extra heat on the body which can make existing acne worse due to an increase of sweat production. Additionally, if you don’t take certain precautions during a workout such as washing your face afterwards and changing out of sweaty clothing immediately after exercising then this could lead to even more breakouts. It’s recommended that moderate exercise like walking or light jogging may provide beneficial effects while strenuous activities such as weightlifting should be avoided or done with caution in order to prevent further aggravating existing skin conditions such as acne.

Hormonal Changes and Acne

Exercise has several beneficial effects on the skin, and understanding the underlying scientific mechanisms can help us understand why this is so. Working out triggers hormonal changes in the body that can affect acne. Various hormones are released during exercise, such as adrenaline and cortisol, that assist in breaking down carbohydrates for energy levels and support muscle growth.

Testosterone is a powerful hormone released during physical activity; it helps build muscle mass, strength and endurance but like other hormones, it also affects oil production in skin cells. Research has shown that higher levels of testosterone can increase sebum or oil production, which can block pores and contribute to acne breakouts. Additionally, high cortisol levels may cause an increase in inflammation which may worsen existing acne flare-ups.

However, regular exercise has been shown to improve blood flow, allowing oxygen and valuable nutrients to reach all parts of the body including facial skin cells more efficiently. This ultimately stimulates cell metabolism for healthy looking skin and reduction of acne breakouts over time. Studies have also suggested that exercise increases endorphins – the feel good hormones- leading to an overall positive effect on sleep patterns as well as emotional state with a feeling of being empowered and energized!

Benefits of Working Out

Working out is an activity that not only gives us physical benefits such as stronger muscles and better endurance, but it can also bring us mental benefits like improved mood and reduced stress. Working out can also be beneficial when it comes to acne, as it can help reduce inflammation, improve skin health, and even reduce stress levels. In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of working out that can help to reduce acne.

Improved Circulation

One of the main benefits of working out is that it boosts your circulation. When you exercise, your breathing rate increases and you begin taking in more oxygen. This increased intake encourages blood circulation throughout the body. As your muscles work, they restrict blood vessels, which then prompt the body to pump more blood to the area being worked on.

In turn, this improved circulation helps to transport oxygen-rich blood to cells and bring nutrients directly to where they can be used for repair and maintenance. Widespread circulation also has a detoxification effect on the body—shedding toxins in a process called sweating—which is beneficial not only for overall health but also for clearing skin and reducing acne. Exercise can also help clear clogged pores by unclogging the oils that have built up inside them over time. Lastly, better circulation means that any existing acne spots heal faster due to increased oxygen delivery which is essential for regeneration and healing!

Reduced Stress

Stress can be a contributing factor in the development of acne. Even if you have perfect skin today, it could eventually be destroyed by stress-related breakouts if you don’t take steps to manage it. Working out regularly is one of the best ways to manage stress. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, hormones that act as natural mood enhancers and reduce feelings of stress and depression. These effects are retained even after the workout is over and can keep your mood elevated for several hours afterward. It’s also been proven that regular exercise can positively affect your sleeping habits which further helps reduce stress-related skin problems.

Improved Sleep

For many people, improved sleep is one of the most easily recognizable benefits of working out. Research shows that regular physical activity can help you feel more rested and less sluggish during the day. Exercise increases your heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to your brain and muscles, resulting in increased energy levels and improved alertness. Working out regularly also increases your body’s production of melatonin – a hormone that helps regulate sleep patterns – and growth hormones, both important to healthy rest. In addition, increased movement helps reduce stress and tiredness while promoting feelings of relaxation, leading to better overall rest. Therefore, by committing to regular exercise regimens, you can protect yourself from fatigue-induced illnesses like insomnia or depression due to lack of energy or motivation.

Tips for Working Out with Acne

Exercise is a great way to improve your physical health and mental wellbeing, but it can also help reduce acne. With the right strategy, working out can help curb inflammation, reduce stress, and detoxify your body in ways that can reduce the severity of acne and boost overall skin health. Let’s take a look at the most effective tips for working out with acne.

Wear Loose Clothing

When you are exercising, it is highly recommended that you wear loose exercise clothing. This will help to keep the area where you are prone to breakouts dry and reduce the chances of sweat accumulating on the skin. Make sure to choose breathable fabrics such as cotton or bamboo, as these will allow airflow and keep your body odor to a minimum. It is also important to avoid clothes that are too tight or rubbing against the skin, as this can further irritate the area. Additionally, try to change out of your workout clothes as soon as possible once you have completed your activity and take a shower shortly after in order to remove bacteria from sweat and dirt before it has time to settle into your pores.

Cleanse After Exercise

An important part of maintaining clear skin when exercising is to make sure you immediately cleanse your skin after working out. Sweat, oils, and bacteria built up during exercise can leave your skin clogged and contribute to more breakouts if left untreated. So, as soon as you’re done exercising be sure to get rid of all sweat, dirt, and makeup by using an appropriate cleanser that won’t strip your skin of needed moisture. You may also want to use an exfoliant a few times a week so that dead skin cells don’t accumulate on the surface of your skin and cause bacteria-filled clogged pores. In addition, you should moisturize your face with an oil-free moisturizer every day to ensure your skin is hydrated and free from blemishes. Finally, use an oil-free sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher whenever you plan on being outside for more than 20 minutes at a time in order to protect yourself from the suns harsh rays which can further irritate existing acne or cause new breakouts to occur.

Use Non-Comedogenic Products

When working out and trying to reduce acne, it’s important to use products that are designed not to clog pores — also known as non-comedogenic products. These products are specifically designed with ingredients that help keep your pores open and clear, reducing the chance of acne flare-ups.

Non-comedogenic cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, makeup and hair care items can help reduce the chance of breakouts by allowing oxygen, sweat and oil to pass freely while keeping bacteria out of the skin. For best results, choose a specialized cleansing or moisturizing regimen from an acne treatment center or dermatologist with ingredients specifically tailored to work with your skin type.

In addition to using non-comedogenic products before, during and after workouts, wearing loose-fitting clothing made of moisture wicking fabric can also help prevent acne from breaking out after exercise. Moisture wicking fabric allows sweat and oil to evaporate quickly from the skin, helping prevent pore clogging buildup that leads to breakouts.


In conclusion, while working out may not be a universal solution to acne, it can help to provide relief and improve the appearance of skin in some cases. Additionally, avoiding physical trauma and sweating due to excess body stress can provide a beneficial effect on acne. It’s important to keep in mind that any form of exercise can potentially worsen acne if personal hygiene is not maintained. Therefore, combining a solid skincare routine with exercise while maintaining proper hygiene may improve conditions for those suffering from mild to moderate cases of acne.

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