We all know that exercise benefits us in many ways. It keeps us thin and strong, improves body composition, balance, and state of mind, but did you know exercise can rejuvenate your skin, if you do enough to work up a sweat, that is.

Our skin changes as we age, resulting in wrinkles, crow’s feet and sagging.  This is because of changes within the layers of skin.

As we age, the stratum corneum, the protective outer layer of the epidermis, gets drier, flakier, and denser.  At the same time the dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis, begins to thin, losing elasticity, giving the skin a translucent, often saggier appearance. 

So our skin is thickening and thinning at the same time, but in the wrong way. These changes occur independent of sun damage and just happen with the passage of time. 

But a study presented in April, 2014 at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine showed that sweating can not only keep skin younger, but also can actually reverse skin aging! 

Volunteers aged 65 or older had skin biopsies done on non-sun exposed skin.  Then they began an endurance training program, working out once or twice a week by jogging or cycling. At a moderately strenuous pace equivalent to 60% of their maximum aerobic capacity for 30 minutes for 3 months.  When they were re-biopsied at the end of the study, their skin looked very different under the microscope.  Their outer and inner layers looked very similar to those of 20 to 40 year olds and the only difference was the exercise!

Evidently there are substances called myokines that are released from working muscles, which are known to go into the bloodstream and affect cells at a distance from the muscles. The skin of these volunteers contained almost 50% more of a myokine called IL-15 after they had been exercising than it did at the beginning of the study

Scientists say that there are probably other substances involved in the skin changes related to exercise, making it unlikely that any IL-15 pill, salve or injection will replicate the benefits of exercise.