Guide for Exercising When Youre Managing Rosacea

Even if you know the benefits of regular exercise, you may forgo fitness fearing that it’ll exacerbate your rosacea symptoms. Your concerns are understandable — and real, points out Susan Bard, MD, a board-certified general and procedural dermatologist with Vive Dermatology in Brooklyn, New York.

“Rosacea is a condition in which blood vessel instability leads to flushing and blushing. When we exercise, these unstable vessels further dilate, leading to even greater flushing,” she says.

But while overexertion can cause rosacea symptoms, such as flares of red skin, swelling, and pimples, you shouldn’t count out exercise.

The reason: Avoiding exercise could be detrimental to your rosacea treatment, not to mention your overall health.

Among its many benefits, exercise helps increase endorphins and reduces stress, calming the mind, explains Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. “Stress is one trigger for rosacea flares, so stress reduction can be a beneficial, long-term rosacea management technique, even if it causes some temporary flushing due to the acute vasodilation.”

Dr. Shainhouse also notes that exercise pumps oxygenated blood and nutrients throughout the body and skin, which helps to nourish and repair skin cells. This can lead to healthier-looking skin.

In fact, according to the aforementioned NRS survey, 62 percent of respondents said simple exercise routine modifications reduced symptoms caused by working out.

So rather than banish exercise from your life altogether — learn how to alter your routine to avoid the redness of a rosacea flare.

6 Dos and Don’ts for Exercising When Managing Rosacea

These rosacea care suggestions can help you enjoy an active life while reducing your risk of a flare:

1. Don’t: Do High-Intensity Workouts if You Can’t Risk a Flare

The good news: You can still meet the 2018 federal guidelines for exercise by doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise — such as cycling, walking briskly, or doing household chores — if not the equivalent 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week. “Lower-intensity workouts won’t make your face flush as much,” Shainhouse says. You should also incorporate strength training at least two days per week, the guidelines recommend.

2. Do: Short Spurts of Exercise Rather Than a Continual Workout Session

The NRS recommends exercising in 15-minute segments spaced throughout the day, as opposed to a continuous 45-minute workout. You’ll still reap the benefits yet reduce your chances of overheating and reddening your skin. If this isn’t possible, alternate between "hot" and "cool" activities: Lift weights or perform aerobic exercise for 15 minutes, and then take a stretch or swim laps in the pool. Once you've cooled off, return for more weight lifting or aerobics.

3. Don’t: Let Your Body Get Overheated

Wearing too many clothes when exercising can lead to overheating. Choose the right workout clothes and dress in layers, peeling off clothes as needed, recommends the American Academy of Dermatology. The NRS recommends placing a cool towel around your neck or dabbing an ice cube on your skin to stay cool. “Drinking cold water and keeping a cool cloth or spray bottle by your cardio machine to place on your face and neck intermittently will help constrict blood vessels and reduce the extra redness a little quicker,” says Shainhouse.

4. Do: Work Out in the Morning or Evening, When the Sun Isn’t at Its Peak

Peak sun hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the summer months, according to Shainhouse, who further notes how people with rosacea are more sensitive to heat associated with UV rays than those without the skin condition. This can cause additional vasodilation and make skin appear redder. If you prefer walking, running, biking, or hiking, do so in the early morning or evening hours. Look for shaded trails and don’t forget to wear sunscreen, advises the NRS.

6. Do: Stay Hydrated by Keeping a Water Bottle Handy

“The vessels in the skin vasodilate to help dissipate heat, but if you’re dehydrated and can’t sweat sufficiently, the body will not cool off quickly and redness may persist for longer than you like,” notes Shainhouse. Drink water before, during, and after workouts to prevent dehydration, recommends the Mayo Clinic. This can help your body's natural cooling system function properly.

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