Turns out, weight lifting is really good for your skin

August 9, 2023

Scrubs, serums, moisturizer, and a sunblock? Sure … but it might turn out that curls and squats could be just as important for your skincare routine, reports Futurism.

In interviews with The Washington Post, scientists who worked on and are familiar with the new research described a surprising finding: They say that one of the many benefits of weight lifting—beyond, you know, getting swole—is that it promises better skin health.

Published in the journal, Scientific Reports, the new study examined middle-aged women in Japan. One group of study participants cycled for 30 minutes twice a week over a period of 16 weeks, while the other lifted weights for the same duration and number of weeks.

While both saw many physical improvements, including skin elasticity, only the weight-lifting group saw their dermal layers growing thicker, which meant that the proteins involved in skin-rebuilding were working faster for the weightlifters than the cyclists.

Satoshi Fujita, an exercise researcher at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University who oversaw the study, told WaPo that while the skin of all the women in the study became “more youthful at a cellular level” following the four months of sustained workouts, it’s unclear why the resistance training group experienced the dermal thickness effect at greater levels.

Interestingly, the researchers did not discuss in the study how the participants’ skin looked, although Fujita told WaPo that “theoretically, these changes may reduce wrinkles, improve appearance and help people look younger.”

Overall, however, the study’s findings could contribute way more to the understanding of skin health, because, as the Japanese researcher noted, they “suggest that the skin is strongly influenced not only by external factors such as UV radiation and dryness, but also by internal factors” like gene expression and inflammation. What’s more, the study seems to indicate that those internal factors could change with exercise, too.

There are, of course, major limitations: The research was conducted in Japan and among a cohort of only 56 women, all of whom are middle-aged. And the study had no control group, WaPo noted.

Nevertheless, it opens a fascinating line of inquiry into the connections between exercise and skin health—and it’s one more clue that lifting weights may be weirdly good for you.

Research contact: @futurism