Exercise and Oxidative Stress: Is Your Exercise Routine Prematurely Aging Your Skin?
Exercise has countless health benefits but too much and you could prematurely age your skin, and even take years off your life.
Exercise improves your health, helps ward off disease, keeps you looking great and boosts your spirits by producing all those “feel good” endorphins. But as with anything in life, too much of a good thing has negative consequences. Ironic but true, too much exercise causes damage to your body.
What Are Free Radicals?
Exercise increases production of damage causing free radicals. Free radicals are molecules missing at least one electron in the outermost orbit, which causes it to be negatively charged. Like most things in nature, free radicals seek to remain neutral, and in an effort to achieve this balance they bump up against healthy cells in your body and steal electrons from them. This process leaves the once healthy cell, damaged and mutated.
This process doesn’t stop with only one cell, but causes a chain of damaged cells. An imbalance between these free radicals and antioxidants is referred to as oxidative stress. The consequences of oxidative stress include accelerated aging, cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
What Causes Oxidative Stress?
We are constantly bombarded with oxidative stress. Consuming processed foods, mental stress, environmental factors such as exhaust, cigarette smoke and pollutants, and exposure to pesticides are all factors.
Excessive, high intensity exercise also causes oxidative stress. During intense exercise, the conversion of glucose (sugar) into energy occurs through a process known as oxidation.
Add overexposure to the sun and the elements to the list and it is easy to see how free radicals quickly outnumber antioxidants.
How Much Exercise Is Too Much?
Exercise and overall movement are critical for keeping your body fit and healthy, but you need to remember exercise is another form of stress. Burning fuel in high intensity workouts causes chemical reactions that speed up the process of free radical production.
The latest trend in fitness is for workouts to be painful and leave you gasping for air. “No pain, no gain” right? Wrong. Running marathons, participating in HIIT or other “bootcamp” style programs and pushing your body to exhaustion is too much if you want to look and be healthy.
As a 46 year old competitive CrossFit™ athlete, I can speak first hand how extreme fitness causes premature wrinkles and aging. Likewise, exposure to elements like wind, sun, rain and pollution during long, endurance type sports is sure to age you prematurely.
Although high intensity workouts can be mentally rewarding, if beautiful skin, healthy joints and a long life are what you are after, you’re better off avoiding chronic participation in these sort of exercises.
How Do You Avoid Oxidative Stress?
Keeping a healthy balance of free radicals and antioxidants is the key to avoiding oxidative stress. Be mindful with your diet, exercise and lifestyle. Follow these suggestions to avoid premature aging and taking years off of your life:
- Eat plenty of dark, leafy vegetables and avoid packaged foods
- Get a variety of micronutrients and antioxidants through a diet based upon seasonal eating
- Get quality sleep
- Keep exercise aerobic and weight train on a regular basis. An intelligently designed, moderate fitness program is sure to keep you looking great, while improving your health and longevity.
- Manage mental stress through daily meditation, surround yourself with others who support you and keep a journal
- Limit exposure to pollutants and pesticides
- Avoid chemicals and additives in skincare products (3,2,1 Fre’ is the ideal solution)
- Protect your skin with sweatproof SPF like Glow Me
Be mindful of the combination of oxidative stress inducers in your life. Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it and you will avoid premature aging.
Here’s to living a life of fulfillment!