Modes of Exercise for Every Lifestyle

Good diet choices and regular exercise may contribute to healthy skin

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Before embarking on a new exercise regimen, consult your doctor to ensure your health and safety. 

To live a long, vivacious life, everyone should do their best to make healthy diet choices, enjoy regular exercise, and maintain a normal weight. Regular exercise improves overall wellness and regulates hormones.[1]  A better hormone balance, along with better blood circulation leads to improved skin health and skin beauty.[2]  Just as there are many different diets, there are also many different activities that can be done as an exercise. The benefits of including exercise in your regular routine are endless, including improved cardiovascular health, decreased risk for cancer,[3] decreased risk for diabetes,[4] decreased body fat,[5] decreased risk for osteoporosis,[6] improved mental health,[7] and improved physical fitness, just to name a few.[8] 


Benefits of Exercise for the Skin

Regular exercise can also help to maintain healthy, youthful looking skin.[9] Exercise helps to clear the pores, and improves blood circulation, giving the skin a healthy glow and bathing the skin cells with nutrient rich blood.[10] One study found that men who underwent regular aerobic exercise had significantly improved blood flow to the skin than men who were not on an exercise program.[11] Additionally, exercise can help flush toxins from the skin and improve activity of mitochondria (“powerhouses”) of the cells, leading to better overall skin function.[12] Experts have advised that regular exercise may alleviate the signs of aging on skin.[13] This article will briefly discuss general components of exercise and give examples of exercise to add to your daily routines.  


Exercise Duration

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends adults do at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week.[14] However, they also suggest that additional benefits can be obtained if aerobic activity is increased to 5 hours per week.


Exercise Intensity

Light – on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being most effort possible), a light intensity would be 0-3. Examples of light intensity might be playing an instrument, sitting and fishing, standing light housework, casual walking, and stretching.

Moderate – think of this as “medium” effort. On the intensity scale, a moderate intensity would be about 4 to 6. At moderate intensity, there should be a significant increase in heart rate and rate of breathing. A simple way of measuring intensity is the “talk test.” If you are able to talk, but not sing, you are probably at moderate intensity.

Vigorous – vigorous exercise would range from 7 to 10 on the effort scale, with substantially increased heart rate and breathing. During vigorous activity, you will have to stop talking to catch your breath after only 2 or 3 words.


Categories of Exercise

1.    Aerobic 

Aerobic activity can be generally described as a rhythmic movement of large muscle groups for a sustained period of time. Aerobic exercise causes the heart to beat at a faster rate, leading to improved cardiovascular health.[15] Regular exercise can also boost HDL (“good”) cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and maintain normal weight.

Table 1. Examples of Aerobic Exercise

Moderate Aerobic Exercise     Vigorous Aerobic Exercise
Brisk walking, jogging, biking   Running
Water Aerobics   Swimming laps
Dancing     Aerobic dancing class (e.g. – Zumba)
Tennis doubles   Hiking uphill
  Fast bicycling
  Basketball or Soccer game
  Tennis singles

2.    Strength Training

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion also suggests that adults perform moderate to vigorous strength training exercises two or more days per week.[14] Strength training improves muscle strength and increases fat burning. Strength training also maintains bone density and prevents osteoporosis, which is extremely important as people age.[6]

Examples of Strength Training:
  • Weight Training with hand-held weights and machines
  • Resistance bands, cables
  • Exercises using body weight
  • Digging, lifting, and carrying heavy objects
  • Pilates

3.    Balance

Practicing balance benefits people of all ages, but especially as we age. Older adults become more at risk for dangerous falls. Along with muscle-strengthening activities, balancing exercises should be done 3 days per week to reduce the risk of falls.[14]

Examples of Balancing Exercises:
  • Heel to toe walking
  • Balancing on one foot at a time
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

4.    Flexibility

Maintaining and improving flexibility is a crucial component of safety when participating in any form of exercise. Regular stretching helps to prevent injuries and stiffness and improves the range of motion of joints and muscles.[16] 

Examples of Flexibility training:
  • Stretching for 10-15 minutes at the beginning of a workout
  • Yoga


Tips for Starting an Exercise Plan

  1. Consult your doctor prior to starting a new exercise.
  2. Buy appropriate footwear to prevent foot and ankle injuries.
  3. Spend about 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each workout doing a warm-up and cool-down. 
  4. Listen to your body – rest, if you need rest.
  5. If you experience pain during any exercise, stop doing whatever is causing the pain and consult your doctor.
  6. Stay hydrated, your skin will thank you!


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1.    Hagobian TA, Sharoff CG, Stephens BR, et al. Effects of exercise on energy-regulating hormones and appetite in men and women. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.2009;296(2):R233-242; PMID: 19073905.

2.    Jaret P. Exercise for Healthy Skin. webmd 2011; - 3. Accessed August 12, 2016.

3.    Calton BA, Lacey JV, Jr., Schatzkin A, et al. Physical activity and the risk of colon cancer among women: a prospective cohort study (United States). Int J Cancer.2006;119(2):385-391; PMID: 16489545.

4.    Di Loreto C, Fanelli C, Lucidi P, et al. Make your diabetic patients walk: long-term impact of different amounts of physical activity on type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care.2005;28(6):1295-1302; PMID: 15920042.

5.    Brown WJ, Burton NW, Rowan PJ. Updating the evidence on physical activity and health in women. Am J Prev Med.2007;33(5):404-411; PMID: 17950406.

6.    Engelke K, Kemmler W, Lauber D, et al. Exercise maintains bone density at spine and hip EFOPS: a 3-year longitudinal study in early postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int.2006;17(1):133-142; PMID: 16096715.

7.    Larson EB, Wang L, Bowen JD, et al. Exercise is associated with reduced risk for incident dementia among persons 65 years of age and older. Ann Intern Med.2006;144(2):73-81; PMID: 16418406.

8.    Exercise In-Depth Report. The New York Times Accessed August 11, 2016.

9.    Reynolds G. Younger Skin Through Exercise. New York Times 2014; Accessed August 14, 2016.

10.    Salada L. Exercise Benefits Your Skin. Total Gym Pulse 2013; Accessed August 14, 2016.

11.    Thomas CM, Pierzga JM, Kenney WL. Aerobic training and cutaneous vasodilation in young and older men. J Appl Physiol (1985).1999;86(5):1676-1686; PMID: 10233135.

12.    Conley KE, Marcinek DJ, Villarin J. Mitochondrial dysfunction and age. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care.2007;10(6):688-692; PMID: 18089948.

13.    Puizina-Ivic N. Skin aging. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat.2008;17(2):47-54; PMID: 18709289.

14.    Chapter 5: Active Older Adults. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion 2016; Accessed August 11, 2016.

15.    Manson JE, Gaziano JM, Spelsberg A, et al. A secondary prevention trial of antioxidant vitamins and cardiovascular disease in women. Rationale, design, and methods. The WACS Research Group. Ann Epidemiol.1995;5(4):261-269; PMID: 8520707.

16.    Mikkelsson LO, Nupponen H, Kaprio J, et al. Adolescent flexibility, endurance strength, and physical activity as predictors of adult tension neck, low back pain, and knee injury: a 25 year follow up study. Br J Sports Med.2006;40(2):107-113; PMID: 16431995.