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WANTED: Exercise Regimens & Tricks for Acne

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We've all heard that we should exercise more, but there's some confusion as to whether certain exercises can actually do the opposite of what we want...give us (more) acne!

So the purpose of this thread is to find of from those that are huge propenents of exercise and physical activity, what exercises they've discovered have:

A) No Effect on Acne

B) Postive Effect on Acne

Thereby, hopefully excluding the types of exercises that may indeed aggrevate acne.

From what scientific studies I've found and anecdotal evidence it appears that aerobic (jogging, swimming, dancing) and low impact (yoga, pilates, etc) are safe bets, but it's rather iffy when it comes to using weights. Bear in mind there are other possible variables when training such as one's particular diet and whether they are taking muscle buidling supplements or steriods, but I've heard accounts where none of those were factors and they're acne still increased =(

Anyway, this is what Perricone has to say:

As you've learned in the preceding chapters, if you suffer from acne--whether an occasional breakout or chronic, progressive lesions eliminating it is a multilayered task. One must treat the entire body. Everyone knows that moderate exercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle, and this is especially true for the acne patient. We do well to listen to good old-fashioned common sense: moderation is key.

The Perricone Program recommends blending three distinct types of exercise:

Weight resistance



But acne is unique-much of what might be considered beauty- and health-promoting activities for people without acne can spell disaster for those with acne. Even worse, certain forms of exercise can actually cause or exacerbate acne. Let's take a look at these statements and evaluate them.

Like me, many of my patients, both male and female, practice weight training and/or weight lifting. I first began weight lifting when I was in my teens, and I loved the positive effects it had on my strength and appearance. This motivated me to add a good cardiovascular workout to my exercise routine, and so I began running.

The physical results were great. I became stronger and healthier; my endurance and stamina increased with each passing day. But all was not good news. My newfound fitness and robust, healthy appearance were restricted to my body only. My complexion was another story. I was loath to admit it, but the weight lifting actually made my acne worse. Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact of life among bodybuilders and weight lifters, regardless of gender, that this type of exercise makes the body much more susceptible to acne breakouts. The reason is simple: weight lifting and weight training increases levels of male hormones, such as testosterone. As we learned in Chapter 3, male hormones can contribute to acne.

I should mention flexibility here, too. Cardiovascular aerobic exercises and weight training or weight lifting offer many important benefits to the body, but none of these types of exercises increase flexibility. This is important because as we age our flexibility decreases dramatically. If you doubt this, just spend a few moments watching a child or teenager play, dance, participate in sports, and so on. You'll notice their ease of motion, quickness of response, physical fluidity.

So how can one attain a fit, toned, and flexible body as well as clear, radiant skin at any age? Yoga.

In my opinion, the benefits of yoga are unparalleled. Yoga is unique in that it addresses the entire person.

It exercises and tones the body.

It energizes and soothes the mind.

It helps the practitioner to achieve a deeply meditative state.

Because acne is aggravated by stress, meditation or some form of effective relaxation is necessary to lower stress levels. Yoga provides just that; it is a superior form of meditation. But yoga is not a passive meditation. A twenty-minute yoga session will leave you completely relaxed, physically invigorated, and enjoying a strong sense of well-being. It is the perfect exercise for people who lead busy, stress-filled lives who want to look and feel their best.

To really showcase the many benefits of yoga I went to the experts. Trisha Lamb Feuerstein of the International Association of Yoga Therapists has kindly given me permission to reprint the Health Benefits of Yoga that appears on their excellent and informative website at International Association of Yoga Therapists.


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I also found this on yoga and some of it reminded me of what you covered whenever you mentioned inner talk tapes and other methods of (not my area)...improving & expanding power of the mind. Do you do yoga or any form of meditation?

How Yoga Helps Acne

This information is grouped into three categories-physiological benefits, psychological benefits, biochemical effects-and is based on the regular practice of traditional asana, pranayama, and meditation. Please note that your pulse rate, etc., may increase during the practice of various asanas, some forms of pranayama, and some stages of meditation, but overall benefits to general health are as listed below. For information on the physiological changes that occur during the practice of specific asanas, please see James Funderburk's Science Studies Yoga and other resources cited at the end of this article.

Physiological Benefits

Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium, with a tendency toward parasympathetic nervous system dominance rather than the usual stress-induced sympathetic nervous system dominance.

Pulse rate decreases

Respiratory rate decreases

Blood pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)

Galvanic skin response (GSR) increases

EEG-alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)

EMG activity decreases

Cardiovascular efficiency increases

Respiratory efficiency increases (respiratory amplitude and smoothness increase, tidal volume increases, vital capacity increases, breath-holding time increases)

Gastrointestinal function normalizes

Endocrine function normalizes

Excretory functions improve

Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase

Posture improves

Strength and resiliency increase

Endurance increases

Energy level increases

Weight normalizes

Sleep improves

Immunity increases

Pain decreases

Psychological Benefits

Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase

Mood improves and subjective well-being increases

Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase

Social adjustment increases

Anxiety and depression decrease

Hostility decreases

Psychomotor functions improve

Grip strength increases

Dexterity and fine skills improve

Eye-hand coordination improves

Choice reaction time improves

Steadiness improves

Depth perception improves

Balance improves

Integrated functioning of body parts improves

Cognitive function improves

Attention improves

Concentration improves

Memory improves

Learning efficiency improves

Symbol coding improves

Flicker fusion frequency improves

Biochemical Effects

The biochemical profile improves, indicating an antistress and antioxidant effect, important in the prevention of degenerative diseases.

Glucose decreases

Sodium decreases

Total cholesterol decreases

Triglycerides decrease

HDL cholesterol increases

LDL cholesterol decreases

VLDL cholesterol decreases

Cholinesterase increases

Catecholamines decrease

ATPase increases

Hematocrit increases

Hemoglobin increases

Lymphocyte count increases

Total white blood cell count decreases

Thyroxin increases

Vitamin C increases

Total serum protein increases

Yoga Compared to Conventional Exercise


Parasympathetic nervous system dominates

Subcortical regions of brain dominate

Slow dynamic and static movements

Normalization of muscle tone

Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments

Low caloric consumption

Effort is minimized, relaxed

Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)

Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups

Noncompetitive, process-oriented

Awareness is internal

(focus is on breath and the infinite)

Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness


Sympathetic nervous system dominates

Cortical regions of brain dominate

Rapid, forceful movements

Increased muscle tension

Higher risk of injury

Moderate to high caloric consumption

Effort is maximized

Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)

Imbalanced activity of opposing groups

Competitive, goal oriented

Awareness is external (focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)

Boredom factor


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I only lift some weights and can't really say that i have noticed any specific affect on my acne.

And i don't use steroids! wink.gif

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Yes I do meditation and the Innertalk and binaural beats help immensly. The mind accelerator also helps because one of the things it focuses on is the Socratic and Einsteinian methods, which is based on introspection(Right word?), self discovery, and questioning everything in insane detail. My meditation is used for exploring and focus, not usually as a medium to create a blank slate and clear my mind. I find that a secondary process of this is that my clear thoughts create a calming effect and reduces stress. Of course I sometimes use these to just relax but they are so effective that I sometimes fall asleep sitting up even though I am actively trying not to and I don't like that.

I do intensive cardio becuase of all the activities I'm involved in. I'm not one for the major sports like baseball, basketball, etc... I'm a frequent swimmer, I kayak, I jog or sprint when I feel like it(HIIT training), etc...

I lift weights, I have since I stopped growing up in high school and decided to grow out(I'm an ectomorph). You don't get better gains working out 4x per week, you have to workout smarter with less reps of more compound, heavier, exercises.

Doing all this, it has never affected my acne as I have been really active all my life. When I worked out really hard for a few months it never affected my acne. The only thing that made me worse was when I used literally dozens of things in a day on my face. Before I grew out of it I tried every single thing on this board that was non-prescription, except liver flushing. I mean every natural, OTC, e-bay, peels, masks, everything you could think of, all to get rid of my mild acne, whih turned moderate when I started using everything.

I realized that too much stuff is bad but it was a consequence of my obsession with my acne, which wasn't bad at all. However I see it much worse in other posters. It's almost as if they have OCD, for instance a post where someone eats a chip and then posts a OMG!!! I'm going to die!!!!! thread and 50 people come to their aid with 50 thigns you are supposed to do, which just reinforces that they did somethign terribly wrong.

It just bugs me and I get the feeling that all these measures are the compulsive part of the disorder. Some people even go as far as to eat a bite of a low GI food and a bite of a high GI food int hat order every meal, as if that exact order will make everything better or that food gets converted into gluose as soon as you swallow. Maybe it's an eating disorder although it doesn't fall into anorexia, bulemia, or binge and everything else is just lumped together so it's hard to tell.

Bit off topic but the way I see it trying to pinpoint the cause of acne is hopeless. Yes it ultimately is attributed to the 5 main causes(The keratinization, sebum, bacteria, immune response, etc...) but what causes these to start is different for everyone and I believe everythign that can be said already has on these forums by you Jade and others. It's just most people never use the search function or they come on here with a post that they just know the cure and that milk or bread of whatever is the definite cause of acne. Well, no it's not, it's the cause of acne for you, and even then there are many other confounding factors that you didn't take into consideration so it may not be.

My take on weight lifting, exercise, etc... is that it is healthy, and there isn't anythign wrong with it at all. Perhapse the bulking diets or whatever can contribute but I will refuse to believe that something that helps the body stay healthy so effectively will form a lot of acne. Sure this denial may be foolish but I KNOW that weight lifting and cardio keep the rest of your body healthy and even if it gave me acne I would not stop or modify my exercise to compensate for acne. My overall health is far more important than acne and any sane person should believe this as well.

When I hear exercise never helped thier acne or whatnot I always think in terms of you diet people. When someone says they tried a diet and it didn't work, usually they never followed it properly. When I say cardio I mean somethign to get you sweating 30min a day minimum for 5 days a week, every week. I know that 99% of people never get to this level and just say exercise never helped them. It has to be a lifestyle change and it's hard. I just hope that all you with great diets thinking that's enough don't realize how important cardio is when you end up in the hospital for something that you thought diet alone could prevent. Don't underestimate what exercise can do to your cirulatory system, organs, your hormones, etc...

In the long run I would rather have a mostly healthy diet and exercise than a super healhty diet and no exercise which is what many of you are doing. What I'm essentially doing is betting my health and life that my way is better than the healthy eaters that are lazy.

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I'm a huge proponent of yoga. I've been doing it for about six years now, sometimes very seriously (1.5 hrs every day), and sometimes only a few times a week, but when I'm not doing it, I NOTICE. When I got serious about getting rid of my acne and started doing all the diet/ supplement things I'm doing, I also made a conscious decision to step up the yoga and deep breathing, which I've done. Like I've said before, I can't really contribute clearing up to one specific thing because I'm doing a few things, and I think it's the COMBINATION and the CONSISTENCY of the right diet and exercise.

I think BBB is right about the diet/exercise balance. I can definitely get away with a lot more diet-wise when I've very active. Before I went back to school 2yrs ago, I was very active all day every day and had never had acne. I started breaking out for the first time in my life the same month I went back to school. Then I cleared up a little bit last summer when I was working on the farm again, climbing mountains, etc, but when school started again, so did the acne. Stress and less exercise.

Anyway, yoga....try it.

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Swimming is a great exercise that shouldn't irritate your acne. You don't sweat and you don't get messy.

I remember when I swam my face got much better so I should start swimming again with the summer and all.

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Generally, all forms of exercise are great, HOWEVER, there can be problems with heavy weight lifting.

Heavy weight lifting increases cortisol production in the body which can lead to a depressed immune system if you already have high cortisol (from cortisone cream, prednisone, flonase, other drugs, high stress).

If you believe you might have high cortisol (symptoms include stretch marks, excess body hair, blushing, difficulty dealing with stress) then I would stick to light weight lifting or aerobic exercises.

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well, i've found that running (usually 4 miles at a time) within say, 8 hours of cheating on my diet seems to be helpful. i am attributing this conclusion to the fact that awhile back i was cheating on my diet daily, and my skin didn't seem to suffer. the only thing that was different in my program is this increase in exercise. the warmer weather is here cool.gif and i'm now on my summer break so i have ample time and opportunity to exercise more. a couple months back if i would cheat on my diet (even minimally) i would generally break out from it 3-4 days later.

although, i can't say with certainty it's the exercise. in general my skin seems to do better in the warmer months, so perhaps it's just that. it does tend to seem logical though, that if the sugar (or whatever) is burned off quickly it will have less opportunity to create a negative reaction within my skin.

i try to stay on my healthy acne friendly diet - but i'm easing back from the obsession that i initially started with. like bbb, i don't see it as healthy to obsess over bite that enters my mouth. luckily, so many of my habits have changed for the better. making healthier food choices is now a natural way of life for me, for the most part.

and reading the above posts has inspired me to get to more yoga classes at my gym!! i went once and felt like i had been drugged. it was freaking amazing the mental calm and clarity i left with.

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A series of five yoga poses can help increase blood flow to your face, flushing away toxins and providing nutrients to your skin. A daily routine of the following yoga poses are recommended:

standing sun, knee squeeze, seated sun, baby and cobra.




i cnt find the knee squeeze, & baby sad.gif

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Swimming worked so well to clear up my acne on my face, chest and back, it was hard to bare my acne for the world to see but hey, I knew it was only going to get better from there on so i swum atleast 3 times a week and before i knew it my skin cleared up

Not to mention your body also becomes more toned and you feel much more confident ^^.

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