Countless studies have proven the physical benefits of regular exercise on your beauty—more radiance, fewer blemishes and improved tone, to name a few—but there is a risk of getting too much of a good thing.
Beauty risks: Increased sunburn on exposed skin and bruised toenails.
Improve your game: Research shows that marathon runners are more likely to develop sunburns and skin cancer than other athletes, thanks to logging in long hours under the rays. “And recent studies have also shown that perspiration boosts photosensitivity,” says Dr. Brian B. Adams, Director of the Sports Dermatology Clinic at the University of Cincinnati.
A German study found that 15 minutes of sweat-inducing jogging shortened the time that it takes your skin to burn by up to 40 percent. Liberally apply a waterproof and rub-resistant sunscreen like Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 before hitting the pavement, wear moisture-wicking clothing to deter excess sweating, and frequently towel off your face to remove any droplets.
Black-and-blue toe nails, a hallmark of many long-distance runners, result from the chronic slamming of the nail against the shoe, so always keep nails clipped short and straight across instead of curved to prevent trauma. “Correctly-sized shoes will also reduce shock each time your feet hit the pavement,” Adams says. It’s best to go to a specialty sports shop for help finding the right fit for you. Running shoes need to have a proper-fitting toe box to accommodate foot swelling during vigorous exercise.
Beauty risks: Rough, calloused fingers and hands, or painful blisters.
Improve your game: Callouses are caused by friction, and unfortunately, they exist for a reason. “They’re a form of self-protection,” explains Jordana Gilman, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “Your skin thickens to defend itself against repeated rubbing.” As for the blisters, they’re created by heat, continuous motion and moisture from sweat. Regular tennis players should towel-dry their hands as much as possible, and add a grip tape to racquets for extra cushioning and comfort. At home, try using a hand cream that contains glycolic acid or lactic acid to help counteract roughness (like Priori Advanced AHA Hand and Body Revitalizing Lotion), ingredients that “slough away built-up cells and temporarily soften texture,” Gilman says.
Beauty risks: Breakouts on your cheeks or back from contact with your mat, or rashes on your back or chest from a combination of perspiration and tight clothing.
Improve your game: Mats are a hotbed for germs, so bring your own to the studio or gym. If that’s not possible, “Lay a clean towel on top to shield your skin from acne-causing bacteria and other residue,” says Dr. D’Anne Kleinsmith, a cosmetic dermatologist in Royal Oak, MI. Always wash your hands thoroughly after class and avoid touching your face in between poses, since germs can travel quickly and clog pores. Devotees of Bikram yoga are especially prone to uncomfortable heat rashes thanks to soaring room temperatures, so it’s worth the investment to buy moisture-wicking clothes designed for this type of practice. As soon as you can after Savasana, suds up with gentle body cleanser to rinse away germs and help discourage skin irritations.