We all know that exercise is good for you. It improves heart health, blood pressure, flexibility, strength, and overall fitness. But there are other benefits to exercise as well. Certain types of exercise have been shown to improve the appearance and health of your skin, and studies show that exercise can even combat depression!

Let’s start with skin. Certain exercises can help you tone your skin in the same way you tone your muscles. Specifically, resistance training. Bodyweight exercises such as pushups, planking, and lunges are all great for building lean muscle mass. That lean muscle is what lies just under your skin. By improving its’ tone, your skin’s tone improves as well! You may want to be careful about excess cardio – activities such as long distance running can increase your body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone responsible for inflammation. Cortisol has also been shown to break down collagen, resulting in sagging and wrinkles – exactly the opposite of what you want!

One thing to keep in mind is the importance of hydration. Staying hydrated will not only improve your workout, it will help your skin tone. Hydrated skin is healthy skin! Plus, all that water can help flush out trapped toxins, oils, and debris that can contribute to acne. So drink up!

Now onto your mood. Exercise has been proven to fight the symptoms of depression. A 1999 study found that aerobic exercise was just as effective as Zoloft for treating depression, while a 2011 study found that exercise resulted in a 30 percent remission rate in patients who’d gotten no relief from prescription medications. Now, this isn’t to say that you should forgo all medication and just work your feelings out on the elliptical. But exercise has plenty of benefits as is, and if it can help your mood improve as well, why not give it a try?

Whether you’re exercising to improve your health, your mood, your skin, or just for fun, remember to maintain a balanced routine. Alternate between cardio and resistance, and be sure to work on your core and to stretch afterwards. Most of all, stay hydrated!

Image Credit: Richard Foster