Exercise is absolutely essential for well-rounded health and vitality. Most experts would agree that we should all aim for at least ten to fifteen minutes of physical activity for three times a week. Studies indicate that people who regularly engage in sufficient exercise are less likely to suffer from various health conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. On top of that, exercise helps keep your stress levels in check by keeping your mind off your stressors and improving your blood circulation. In fact, regular physical activity may even go so far as to preserve your youthful glow — but are you actually doing it all wrong? Don’t quit on your fitness efforts just yet though! Here’s how you can avoid exercise from backfiring on you.

 

Protect Your Skin From The Sun

Enjoy soaking in the warmth of the sun on your regular run? Although sunlight helps naturally increase our body’s production of vitamin D, frequent exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV) from the sun can damage our skin over time. Often referred to as photoageing, this is actually the most common cause of premature ageing in our skin. Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can damage elastin fibres within our skin since these rays tend to stimulate the formation of free radicals within it, thus causing our skin to lose its suppleness.

Furthermore, radiation from UV rays can also cause brown hyperpigmentation to occur on your skin and make you look a lot older than you are. That’s why it’s so important to take the right skin care measures before stepping out of your home for your usual run. All you have to do is take some time to apply some sunscreen with the right sun protection factor (SPF) first — 30 is a good number here. You may also wish to consider adding another layer of protection by investing in a running cap. There are plenty of caps out there that are made in lightweight, moisture-wicking, UV-protective fabric.

 

Give Yourself Enough Time To Recover

As essential as regular exercise is, going way overboard may end up spelling disaster, too. Some people may enjoy, and even crave, the sore sensation they get from a workout, but that might not always be a good sign. Feeling achy all the time may be an indication that you are not allowing your body properly and fully recover. Never shut out what your body is trying to tell you when it comes to exercise. Even if you do somehow manage to push yourself through your workout, using those tired muscles may cause some level of inflammation in your body — your skin included. Over time, chronic inflammation can end up accelerating ageing in your poor skin by causing dryness. This inevitably makes your skin even more susceptible to wrinkles and fine lines since dry skin is more likely to lose its suppleness.

Your body is going to need much more time to recover as you age, so don’t feel too bad about needing longer recovery periods. Moreover, if you don’t allow your body to recover, this may end up weakening your immune system. This makes you more prone to illness since your body isn’t quite able to protect itself, and when you’re ill, your quality of sleep suffers. Studies indicate that sleep deprivation can indeed cause your skin to age faster.

Hence, instead of rushing into yet another high-intensity workout, consider adding variety to your fitness schedule with some low-intensity sessions. Engaging low-intensity workouts such as yoga and even fifteen minutes of light walking can actually help your body recover quicker as well. This is a little something that fitness circles like to refer to as active recovery.

 

Get Some Strength Training In

If your idea of exercise mostly consists of cardio training, then you’re doing it wrong. Although cardio training is unlikely to cause your skin itself to age faster, neglecting strength training may cause your figure to appear less firm with time. As a result, a lack of muscle tone can make us look saggy and much older than we are — this shows up more obviously on our arms. In fact, our muscles tend to deteriorate at an average rate of a quarter of a kilogram per year with insufficient strength training. That makes it about two kilograms of lost muscle mass over a period of ten years. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your heart strong for many years to come, but that doesn’t make your fitness routine any less poorly balanced either.

It’s easy enough to incorporate a bit of strength training in your fitness routine. Simply schedule it into one out of the minimum of three sessions of obligatory physical activities per week. You won’t even have to use one of those intimidating and complicated-looking machines at the gym either. Just invest in some light free weights such as dumbbells. Most of them come cheaply so you can easily purchase a few pairs at varying weights and keep them at home.