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Utilizing Weight Training for Skin Rejuvenation

Physical activity not only benefits our body and mind but also our skin. While aerobic exercise is known to enhance skin health, recent findings suggest that strength training may be even more effective in skin rejuvenation.

A recent Japanese study involving 61 sedentary, middle-aged women divided them into two groups for a 16-week exercise program. One group focused on aerobic workouts while the other engaged in resistance training using weight machines. The objective was to compare the impact of each type of training on the skin.

According to Dr. Satoshi Fujita, a professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, aerobic and resistance training have distinct effects on the body. Resistance training leads to increased muscle size, whereas aerobic training enhances cardiovascular fitness. Researchers hypothesized that these training types would result in different effects on the skin.

After the 16-week study, both groups experienced enhancements in skin elasticity and upper dermal structure. However, the group exclusively performing weight training also exhibited increased dermal thickness. This is noteworthy since the dermis, situated just beneath the epidermis and containing nerves, blood vessels, and glands, tends to thin with age, contributing to sagging and other signs of aging.

Dr. Amy McClung, a dermatologist based in Austin, Texas, finds the research exciting as typical aging causes a deterioration of the dermis, such as reduced elasticity and thickness. Resistance training particularly increased dermal thickness by influencing various contributing factors, rather than thinning the dermis.

Impact of Physical Activity on Skin Appearance

When we engage in physical activity, our bodies produce proteins known as cytokines, which aid cell communication. Exercise also affects hormone levels, metabolites, and other factors that influence skin composition. In this study, blood samples taken before and after the training programs were examined, and both aerobic and resistance training were observed to generate factors that reduce inflammation and boost the expression of genes responsible for skin proteins, including collagen.

However, the specific factors produced by each type of training varied. Resistance training, in particular, prompted the production of factors that enhance skin protein production, including biglycan. The researchers suggested that the increase in biglycan resulting from resistance training may elucidate why this training led to increased dermal thickness.

Dr. Satoshi explains that biglycan is a vital component of skin protein that often diminishes with age and sun exposure. Studies on animals have shown that mice lacking this protein have thinner dermises.

Skin Benefits of Exercise as Part of Your Beauty Regimen

You might be curious about the amount of weightlifting required to enhance your skin’s appearance. According to Dr. Satoshi, even modest resistance training can positively affect the skin, as muscle hypertrophy is not the primary determinant of skin improvement. However, to induce an anti-inflammatory effect, it is advised to engage in weight training involving the major muscles of the body, ideally targeting both upper and lower body muscles.

While the study participants used weight machines, resistance training can also be performed using bands, kettlebells, or even one’s own body weight. It is also important to integrate aerobic training into your routine, as it benefits both your cardiovascular system and skin health, Dr. McClurg recommends.

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