Resistance training could be the “surprisingly effective” secret to achieving fresher, younger skin, a new study has revealed.
Published in Scientific Reports, the research found that aerobic exercise and weight training altered gene expression and improved the underlying health of facial skin cells and tissue.
People’s skin grew “more youthful at a cellular level” after they began exercising,” exercise scientist at Japan’s Ritsumeikan University, Satoshi Fujita, who oversaw the study, told The Washington Post.
The most pronounced effects, he added, occurred when people lifted weights.
While the study was based on the experiences of 56 middle-aged, previously sedentary Japanese women, Professor Fujita said the findings were relevant to anyone with skin (so, all of us) and “a normal measure of vanity”.
He and his colleagues assessed the elasticity, thickness and structure of the dermal layers in the women’s facial skin, using ultrasound and other measures. Half of the women were then assigned to start cycling for 30 minutes, twice a week, while the other half began lifting weights, also for about 30 minutes and twice a week.
After 16 weeks, not only were the women generally fitter (if they had cycled) and stronger (if they’d lifted weights), but their facial skin was different, too.
The researchers found the fitness had improved its elasticity, and was slightly less saggy. It also snapped back into shape better when stretched, and the genes involved in the creation of skin collagen were busier.
For the latter group, the resistance training also increased the thickness of the dermal layer.
The scientists didn’t assess the actual appearance of the women’s skin.
But, Prof Fujita said, “theoretically, these changes may reduce wrinkles, improve appearance and help people look younger”.
Overall, the findings “suggest that the skin is strongly influenced not only by external factors such as UV radiation and dryness,” he explained, “but also by internal factors” like gene expression and inflammation, that can change when you exercise.
“It is possible to expect an additive effect of skin improvement when both resistance and aerobic exercise are combined.”