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Don't Let Rosacea Hold You Back: Outdoor Exercise and Rosacea

I love being outdoors – with the sun on my face or plunging into the cold, deep waters off the UK coast, or even just a bracing wind on a dramatic walk.



If you suffer from rosacea, this can also mean a complete nightmare. To this day, any one of these things can make my skin flare up painfully, bright red, and worst of all, stay like that for hours.


It is no wonder then, that sufferers may be hesitant to engage in outdoor exercise due to concerns about flare-ups. But while it's true that outdoor exercise can pose challenges for those with rosacea, there are also so many benefits to be gained.


Challenges

As outlined above, one of the primary challenges of outdoor exercise for rosacea is the risk of flare-ups caused by exposure to heat (or cold), sunlight, and wind. All these factors can trigger rosacea symptoms, including redness, bumps, and inflammation. This can make it difficult for those with rosacea to enjoy outdoor activities without worrying about the subsequent impact on their skin.


It can also be difficult and time consuming to find the right skincare routine to prevent or minimise flare-ups in the face of these conditions. Many sunscreens and skincare products can irritate sensitive skin, so it can be challenging to find products that protect without causing further irritation. I have definitely applied creams like aftersun, mistaking redness for sunburn, only for the aftersun lotion to burn my already sensitised skin and make the flare up worse.


Benefits of Outdoor Exercise for Rosacea

Despite these challenges, there are so many benefits to be gained from outdoor exercise for those with rosacea.


Firstly, improved cardiovascular health from regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions, which are more common in those with rosacea.


Another benefit is improved mental health (see the blog rosacea and mental health here). Outdoor exercise has been shown to help reduce stress and improve mood, which can be particularly important for those with a chronic skin condition like rosacea.


Exercise can also help to improve sleep quality, which many people cite as a contributing factor for flare ups and is essential for overall health and wellbeing.


Making the outdoors more accessible

So what can you do to get more enjoyment and worry less about flare ups?

  1. Protect your skin from the sun Rock a wide-brimmed hat and apply a high-factor sunscreen to prevent sunburn and further damage to your skin. If you have particularly sensitive skin, don’t forget to try some of the children's sunscreen brands which can be less harsh.

  2. Stay hydrated Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to help prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate rosacea symptoms. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you further.

  3. Consider switching to or incorporating low-impact exercises High-impact activities like running and jumping can exacerbate rosacea symptoms, so try exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming instead.

Outdoor exercise can pose some real challenges for those with rosacea, but it can also provide many benefits – and if you get the balance of skincare and protection right, the benefits of exercise can provide a considerable boost to the way you manage your condition and rebuild your confidence.

As always, if you have concerns about your skin, it's important to speak with your doctor or a dermatologist for personalised advice and treatment options.


Further reading

  1. "Exercise and Rosacea: Tips for Outdoor Exercise" by the National Rosacea Society. This article provides tips for exercising with rosacea and discusses the potential benefits and challenges of outdoor exercise.

  2. "A guide for exercising while you are managing rosacea’ - EverydayHealth.com

  3. Association of Rosacea With Cardiovascular Disease: A Retrospective Cohort Study – an academic study evidencing the connection between rosacea and cardiovascular disease


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