9 Surprising Benefits Of Cycling For Skin


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It’s no real surprise that cycling has many health benefits, but what’s the deal with cycling and its effect on your skin?

Cycling has multiple benefits for the skin, including increasing sleep which stimulates collagen release, improving skin elasticity, and reducing stress which in turn leads to glowing skin.

In this article, I’m going to look at a range of research that suggests benefits for the skin from cycling, as well as examine anecdotal advice from cyclists. There are plenty of both.

So, let’s dive into the ultimate 9 benefits of cycling for skin…

benefits of cycling for skin

1. Cycling Can Lead To A Collagen Increase

You’ve probably heard of collagen. You know, that stuff that celebs inject into every part of their face to stay looking 16 for life.

Collagen is a type of protein found in our bodies, and it is crucial for giving elasticity to our skin (among other things).

What exactly is collagen?

Well, Medical New Today describes it as…

‘a scaffold that provides strength and structure within the body. It is an essential component of connective tissue…It also gives strength and elasticity to the skin.’ (Source)

Medical News Today

But where does cycling come into the equation?

Well, cycling has long been known to be associated with enhanced sleep.

And collagen is created when we sleep.

If we sleep deeper and longer, then this creates a whole load more of this wonderful collagen. This helps our skin rebuild and repair.

More collagen helps the skin to look plumper and so is less likely to show lines. (Source)

2. Increase Cortisol Levels

Here’s a bit more science for you. Research shows cycling is able to increase cortisol levels in our bodies.

But what is this, and how does it affect our skin?

Well, this one all comes down to stress. Of course, stress is not good for us, or our skin.

When we are stressed, our bodies create more of this cortisol. Cortisol is a bit like the body’s alarm system. It is a hormone that helps us react to moments of high intensity and stress successfully.

It makes us more alert, and ready for action!

Unfortunately, though we need this sometimes, it’s not good to have high cortisol levels all the time. This will affect your sleep, and lead to anxiety and feeling stressed.

Cortisol really affects our skin.

Cortisol has a powerful effect on our skin’s glands to create more oil. This clogs up our pores (not good!). This can also create bacteria build-up, inflammation, and even acne.

To be honest, cortisol is just about the worst thing for your skin that exists. Other negative things it produces include:

  • Accelerating the aging process
  • Creating lines
  • Skin rashes

Enter cycling! Cycling has been demonstrated by research to be an excellent de-stressor. (Source)

Cycling offers many benefits that help reduce stress. It:

  • Regulates hormone levels
  • Improves sleep
  • Increases organ function
  • Relaxes muscles

Another massive benefit is that it reduces cortisol levels.

And this, of course, leads us back to our skin. Lower cortisol levels mean all of the following:

  • Lower risk of acne
  • Less release of skin oil
  • Less clogging of pores
  • Less risk of skin conditions
  • Reduced aging process

So, all in all, cycling and cortisol reduction are really powerful in combination. (Source)

3. Cycling Makes Your Skin Glow

What better result is there for your skin than achieving a youthful, and gorgeous glow!?

But how can you achieve this?

Well, research suggests that cycling offers many benefits when it comes to glowing skin. (Source)

Studies at Stanford University have demonstrated that cycling protects the skin against the signs of aging.

But how does the whole glowing skin thing work?

Glowing skin is caused by two things – cell renewal and circulation. (Source)

Cell renewal slows down as we age. It is strongly influenced by things like diet, sleep, and overall health.

Cycling ticks many of these boxes.

Regular cycling helps deepen sleep and also helps to regulate our hormone levels. The result – is speeding up the positive force of cell renewal.

Also, exercise of all types helps to boost overall circulation. Cycling also helps to clean toxins from the blood faster, and this also helps the circulation process speed up somewhat.

4. Say Goodbye To Acne!

Exercises such as cycling have been demonstrated by research to have a positive impact on acne.

Acne is caused by our hair follicles getting clogged. They are closed up with dead skin cells or too much skin oil. (Source)

How to get rid of it?

Well, one way of improving the symptoms of acne is sweating!

Exercise, such as cycling, helps our faces heat up and then produce sweat.

This sweat can have the effect of cleansing the clogged pores. It releases oil and built up dead cells.

This works strongly alongside good hygiene.

Removing the sweat caused by exercise by showering helps to remove dead cells, skin oil, and other causes of acne.

Glowing skin on cyclist
Glowing skin is caused by good circulation and skin cell regeneration – two things stimulated by cycling

5. Cycling Helps Get Vitamin D From Sunlight

Of course, you can never underestimate just the power of getting outside and having a bit of sun on your face!

One of the key benefits of exposure to sunlight is well known – it helps release Vitamin D in our bodies!

Vitamin D has many overall benefits, including strengthening bones and teeth and boosting our immune system.

But what affects does it have on the skin?

Well, lots actually!

According to Be Beautiful, vitamin D showcases the following properties:

  • It has great anti-inflammatory properties
  • It helps eczema and acne
  • It helps slow down the signs of skin aging
  • It helps to fight against wrinkles and fine lines

That’s quite some list!

So get out on your bike and soak up some sunlight. (Source)

The only warning is to wear sun cream. The positive effects of Vitamin D would be overridden if you developed skin cancer.

So get protected before your ride.

6. Cycling Reduces Insomnia

There has been research carried out that cycling is one of the best ways of lessening insomnia. (Source)

The impact of insomnia on skin is well known and backed up by significant research.

Some of the effects on skin are:

  • It may cause dermatitis
  • Be the root cause of skin conditions
  • It destroys skin tissue
  • Can cause eczema

Light exercise such as recreational cycling is shown to be one of the best ways of both getting to sleep faster, and also staying asleep longer.

7. Natural Exfoliation

Exfoliating your skin is one of the best ways of achieving a healthy ‘glow’ and also of helping the cells in your skin regrow.

Exfoliating is the process of getting rid of dead skin cells. To a degree, it happens naturally, but can be increased by chemicals, tools, or experiences.

You may not realize it, but your skin is continually shedding old cells. Every month or so, your skin cells are being shed and new cells taking their place.

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect process. Often, dead cells get kind of stuck on your skin. This can clog your pores. It also results in flakiness.(Source)

Exfoliation is the answer to this!

Although perhaps some of the best exfoliation methods include chemicals and tools, another way is just to get out on your bike!

The process of cycling into a headwind creates a natural stream of air on your face. This cleanses and smoothes out many of these dead cells.  

8. Cycling Could Help Elasticity Loss

You’ve probably heard about skin elasticity. And apparently engaging in healthy exercises such as cycling is an excellent way of developing the elasticity of your skin.

How does this all work?

Well, it all comes down to metabolism.

What is metabolism? Well, in a nutshell, our metabolism is the body’s process to break down and rejuvenate cells.

We normally think about metabolism in reference to food. The body breaks up food and water into energy. This is metabolism in action. The more efficiently it does this, the more energy is created!

The metabolism of skin cells is slightly different but works in a pretty similar way.

The metabolism of skin cells is all about how quickly the cells can repair and rejuvenate following the natural shedding process, and also damage through sunlight exposure and other influences.

The rate of change is what is crucial here.

Cycling, along with other regular exercises, helps speed this process along. It helps cells regrow and rejuvenate.

This leads to heightened elasticity in the skin. (Source)

9. Cycling Helps Waste Removal To Kidneys

One of the biggest benefits of healthy exercise like cycling is that it helps the body flush out toxins in the most efficient way.

What sort of toxins are we talking about here?

Well, there is a whole cocktail of them. Our bodies are influenced by toxins from pollution, from processed foods, and other things like smoking. (Source)

These toxins have multiple negative effects on our skin, such as:

  • They develop and accelerate the process of wrinkling
  • They can damage the skin’s elasticity
  • They can produce age spots

Luckily, regular cycling is a fantastic way of helping the body deal with these toxins.

Exercise helps the kidneys work more powerfully and efficiently, and they are the key organ that removes toxins from the bloodstream.

The deep breathing required in cycling also strengthens the power of our lungs, which are another crucial organ in cleansing our bodies of toxins.

Helping these cleansing processes leads to our skin looking younger, and more elastic, and fights against aging processes such as wrinkling.

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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