It goes without saying that exercise is good for your body and as part of your body, it follows that exercise should also be good for your hair. Toppik examines this assumption and the reasons behind it.
Exercise Reduces Stress
We've previously touched on the effect stress has on hair loss. Stress is an evolutionary hangover, which at one point in our history helped us survive. Stress is our body's short-term survival mode. It increases blood flow to our muscles, heightens our awareness, increases our cortisone levels and floods us with adrenaline.
Bodily functions not essential to our immediate survival, like digestion and hair growth, are all shut down. Blood flow is also withdrawn from the skin which reduces sensation and inhibits bleeding if damaged. All this, in the proper context allowed us to fight or flee in a life or death situation. When being chased by a hungry predator, this made sense, but the same biological response your ancient ancestors had to a hungry bear, is the same reaction you have to an angry boss. Having no physical release to this stress (neither fight nor flight being useful in the boardroom), it can continue long-term, leading to a variety of health issues.
Stress chemicals and a lack of blood flow to the skin aren't great for your hair. Exercise, however, banishes those stress chemicals and increases the flow of nutrient-rich blood to all parts of your body.
Exercise is only a part of a healthy lifestyle
If you exercise regularly, it's likely that you're also careful about what you eat. Like all parts of your body, your hair is grown from the nutrients you consume. A healthy balanced, nutrient-rich diet is almost certain to result in healthier, shiner, better-looking hair.
Exercise promotes toxin removal
You already know about your blood's circulatory system, the mechanism, powered by your heart, by which your reservoir of red stuff travels around the body, transporting nutrients and oxygen as it goes. Less well known, is your other circulatory system - the lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing the waste and toxins from your body. The lymph system, however, doesn't have a big ball of specialised muscle to pump it around, instead, it's powered by the movement of all your other muscles. The more active you are, the better your lymphatic system works and the faster toxins are removed from your body. Toxins, which if left in place would be bad for any part of the body in which they remain, including your hair follicles.
A few words of caution
While exercise is generally as good for your hair as it is your body, there are a few things to bear in mind. Men who lift heavy weights, especially those who take protein supplements are likely to increase the amount of testosterone in their body, which may well accelerate any pre-disposition to androgenetic hair loss.
Regular exercise makes you sweat, which means you're likely to shower as soon as you're done (in addition to your everyday ablutions). Washing your hair can strip away the natural oils that keep it healthy, so make sure you use the most hair friendly shampoo and conditioner to mitigate this.
Swimming is fantastic low impact exercise, but the chlorine and other chemicals routinely added to pools aren't great for your hair. Wear a swimming cap if you can and make sure your hair is washed (with sympathetic products) afterwards.
It seems that looking after yourself is an essential part of looking after your hair and being in great shape is as good for your confidence as having great hair. We happily encourage both!