“If exercise came in pill form, it would be hailed as the blockbuster drug of century” says Dr Ratey, professor at Harvard Medical School. Exercise is one of the most important ingredient for beautiful hair. If you are doing all the right things for your hair like – oil massage, eating healthy foods, using natural products, and you also don’t have any underlying medical condition – but still loosing your hair, then perhaps the only thing you are not doing is – Exercise.
Sadly, we have come to believe that healthy living and exercise is difficult and time consuming. Realistically, daily exercising doesn’t have to be all that painful. All it takes is few changes in the daily living. The trick is to shun the stereotypes and find an activity that is enjoyable to you.
How does exercise help with hair loss? Stress is stressful for your hair. When you are stressed, your body produces stress hormones (cortisone). Stress hormones affect your whole body, and may also cause hair loss. Exercising increases happy hormones (serotonin), that helps reduce stress. There are many other benefits of exercise that will make your hair beautiful. Let us ask the exercise expert – Physiotherapist Shamshu Charaniya – on how exercise can save your hair.
Exercise is one of the Important Key for good health and good hair. When we exercise we sweat. Through sweat, toxins and waste substances are flushed out from the skin pores, giving us a fresh and radiant skin. Likewise, when we sweat from our scalp, it helps to unclog the hair follicles, giving enough space for the new hair to grow. Exercising also increases blood flow to our muscles, skin and scalp. The increased blood flow brings with it more nutrients and more oxygen. This provides nourishment to the hair roots, and thereby promoting healthy hair growth. Some of the effects of exercising are comparable to effects of oil massage. Both exercise and oil massage can increase blood circulation, open clogged pores and has relaxing effect over all. However the advantage of exercise over oil massage is that it is not limited to head area but benefits your entire body. So you can say that it stands above the oil massage.
In today’s modern world stress is synonymous with daily living. When you are stressed, your body produces stress hormones (cortisone), which affects the entire body, including the hair follicles. Stress hormone causes hair follicles to stop growing, which can result in hair thinning or hair loss. Exercising increases the serotonin levels (the happiness hormone) in the body. High levels of serotonin can help improve the way we deal with stress, and lower the presence of the cortisone hormone in the body. Regular exercise promotes hair growth and keeps you glowing. The effects of exercise are not just limited to hair, but your whole being will feel happy and healthy.
Plus not exercising and eating healthy is like applying oil on the scalp and leaving it on without massaging. Its doesn’t help much. So even if we may we eat healthy, by not exercising we deprive our muscles, skin and scalp of effective nutrients exchange. The result is lifeless skin and hair.
There are lot of myths associated with exercise. Firstly you don’t have to go to gym and exercise for hours. You can exercise at your very home or nearby park or ground. You can start with 5 minutes of brisk walk and then gradually build up on that. Secondly shun the stereotypes and find an activity that you enjoy like dance, martial art such as Taekwondo, tai che, or play sports (of course not board games). It’s all about reprogramming your thoughts.
Moderate to high level cardio workout in form of brisk walking, running, cycling, dance, zumba, yoga, or any sport is good for your body and hair. If you prefer working out at home, consider buying a treadmill or cross trainer, and enjoy the activity with your favourite music.
Apparently, breathing exercise (pranayam) and inversion yoga postures like head stand (sirsasana), shoulder stand (sarvangasana), plow pose (halasana), downward facing dog stretch (adhomukha svanasana), Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana), forward stretch (uttanasana), and sun salutation (surya namaskar) are considered to be highly beneficial for healthy hair growth. The inversion pose work by increasing blood flow to your scalp and head area, supplying essential ingredients for hair growth. These postures are purported to correct hormonal imbalances, which is another cause of hair loss. Plus, they also increase vitality, improve concentration, calm nerves, and help aid digestion.
5. Please give us some practical tips to incorporate exercise into daily living?
Of course the desire for beautiful skin and hair can be a driving factor to get up and get moving. Start with less and gradually build up. To begin with do only 5 minute of walking, dancing, cycling or activity you enjoy and slowly increase the intensity and duration. Have a friend or partner exercise with you. Or as Leo Babuta of Zen Habits suggests that let your friend or family know that you are going to exercise, and if you don’t exercise pay them an agreed amount (e.g. £10). This will keep you motivated and keep you going. After few weeks it will become a habit, and you will not mourn to exercise. Rather you will mourn if you don’t exercise, as you will miss the feel good effect and energy.
Although we aim for celebrity looking hair we do not want to do any hard work. As the saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch. Celebrities have strict exercise and diet regime. However you do not have to imitate their schedule. And do not be hard on yourself. If you skip a day or two, just start again.
Moreover, it is extremely important to have correct expectation of your own hair and image. What we don’t understand is every individual has different bone structure, colour, and texture. Yet, regardless of hair colour or texture, healthy and shiny hair by default look great. And that is what should be your ultimate goal.
Exercise not because you have to, but because it makes you feel energised strong and happy.
Note: Always learn and practice the inversion pose under the supervision of yoga teacher. Do not practice the inversion pose during menstruation. And If you suffer from any medical condition please consult your doctor before attempting any intense workout or yoga posture.
Many thanks to Shamshu Charaniya, Physiotherapist, Banglore, India
Image courtesy: My good friend Deepti Virmani. Thanks Deepti for the beautiful picture