Skincare Tips - Exercise with Air

'Aerobic' literally means exercise with air.

This term has become synonymous with vigorous work-outs but aerobic exercise is essen­tially any movement-orientated exercise which makes the heart beat faster and the breathing rate increase. It is a wonderful way of getting blood and oxygen surging around the body.

When resting we breathe about 8 litres (14 pints) of air a minute but this can increase greatly during vigorous exercise. During exercise, blood flow to the skin increases primarily to cool the body. When this happens the skin cells enjoy a boost of energy and other essential nutrients. As we get fitter our breathing capacity and circula­tion increase. So, we take in more air and oxygen gets whisked to the skin more effi­ciently. Muscles become firmer and stronger giving skin better definition. If muscles shrink through inactivity, levels of sex hormones and steroid hormones also decrease pro­portionately. Many of these dwindling hormones play an important part in preserving water balance and youthful appearance of the skin. 

The right moves

To reap these skin benefits exercise must become a part of your life, not something done on an occasional whim. Forget whatever happens to be in vogue. 

  • Discover an activity that you enjoy and fits in with your particular lifestyle, be it swimming, brisk walking, jogging, cycling, horse riding, skiing or working out in the gym.
  • Try to exercise in the open air. In Chinese philosophy a lack of fresh air and exercise weakens the chi of breath. Indoor exercise may build fitness, but outdoor activities like cycling, walking and horse riding revitalise chi to energise mind and body.
  • To cultivate and sustain fit­ness, aim for 20 minutes of aerobic exercise or an hour of brisk walking four times a week.

Skin stimulation

Massage works wonders for oxygenating and energising the skin. It achieves this in two ways. Rubbing, kneading and light percussion move­ments stimulate the circulation and promote the flow of blood to the skin. Soothing strokes relax muscle tensions and free the breath.

Aim to massage your face for 5-10 minutes every day and bits of the body that are easy to reach. Work the following energising move­ments into your routine.

Circling strokes - Using the tips of fingers and palms of hands work over the skin using brisk circling movements. This instantly enhances skin tone.

Kneading - Squeeze skin between the thumb and fingers, then release as if you were kneading a piece of dough. Good for fleshy areas (hips, thighs, tummy, bottom) and for squeezing tension from the shoulders.

Percussion - Light 'hacking' movements using the sides of the hands are highly stimulating and invigorating. The wrists should be loose and flexible, the hands bouncy. Only use on fleshy areas.

Pressure points - Both acupressure and shiatsu-style massage apply pressure to key points on the meridians to stimulate energy flow. To tone the lung meridian, work on an easily accessible point called Lung 7. With palms facing up, feel for the outer wrist bone (on thumb side) and apply firm and continuous finger or thumb pressure to it for about a minute.

Scissoring - A good movement for face massage. Interlock your first and second fingers from both hands and lay them flat against your forehead, then scissor briskly.

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