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Don't Let Acne Keep You From Regular Exercise

Learn to Overcome Discomfort and Anxiety

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Updated May 26, 2009

According to a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, people with acne are less likely to exercise or play sports than their acne-free counterparts. Researchers from the University of Bath interviewed 50 people with acne, ranging in age from young adulthood to middle age. Embarrassment about their acne and anxiety about how others would perceive their skin problems prevented most acne sufferers from joining in physical activities.

Of course, we all know how important regular exercise is our overall health. So what can you do to overcome embarrassment and join in?

Start an acne treatment program, if you haven't already.

Often, just knowing you're doing something to improve your acne can make you feel better about your skin.

Acne Treatment Basics

Pick an activity you're comfortable doing.

Aren't thrilled about showing off your skin in a bathing suit? Try walking or cycling instead. The more comfortable you are, the more likely you will be to stick with an activity.

Focus on fun, rather than your skin.

Have you always wanted to try Pilates? Does tae bo look like a lot of fun? Choose a physical activity that really catches your interest, and sign up for classes. Taking that first step is often the hardest. Find an activity you love, and you'll find yourself looking forward to it, rather than dreading exercise.

Skip the locker room at the gym.

If you are exceptionally uncomfortable undressing or showering at the gym, do it at home instead. There's nothing wrong with arriving already dressed for your workout, then heading straight home afterward to shower, especially if this is the only roadblock between yourself and regular exercise.

Still not comfortable with the gym? Exercise at home.

Pop in an exercise video, go jogging around your neighborhood; there are plenty of
home workouts that can get you going. Once you're feeling more comfortable moving your body, you can confidently join in activities with others.

Keep new breakouts at bay.

Remember, sweat can irritate the skin, contributing to a form of acne called
acne mechanica. To minimize breakouts, always shower after you exercise and avoid wearing clothing that rubs or binds. Friction also triggers acne mechanica.

Source: Loney T, Standage M, Lewis S. "Not Just `Skin Deep': Psychosocial Effects of Dermatological-related Social Anxiety in a Sample of Acne Patients." Journal of Health Psychology 2008; 13(1): 47-54.

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