Everybody knows that exercise is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Along with a good diet, getting enough sleep and reducing stress, it is a key player in keeping your body and mind fit and well.
Exercise keeps your weight under control and improves circulation meaning smooth, clear skin and thick, shiny hair. So it might seem strange that there should be link between fitness and hair loss. However, there are certain aspects of your workout which could be damaging your hair.
Here are five reasons why your exercise regime could be leading to hair loss and how to prevent them:
Sweat and Hair Loss
One way in which exercise and hair loss are related is through sweat. Sweat build up on the scalp can cause the hair to become dull and dry leading to breakage and shedding, as well as increasing the chance of bacterial or fungal infections.
The best way to avoid this is by washing your hair after every workout. If you exercise regularly, you do not need to use shampoo every time as this can strip your hair of its natural oils and cause more problems. Simply rinse with warm water after a visit to the gym and shampoo every few days using a mild, pH balanced shampoo. Condition once a week and rinse out thoroughly.
Wearing a sweatband or using a small towel to dry sweat as you work out can also help. If you have long hair, tie it back while you are in the gym, but avoid tight ponytails which can stress your hair causing it to break.
Chlorine and Hair Loss
If you prefer the pool to the gym, you will need to take some extra precautions to ensure that your hair stays healthy.
Wearing a swimming cap is the best way to protect your hair from the chlorine that is found in public swimming pools. Otherwise, wet your hair with fresh water before swimming. This will be absorbed, offering some protection against the chlorinated pool water. Rinse again with more fresh water every 30 minutes if you can.
Wash your hair well and use a moisturizing conditioner after swimming, but avoid blow drying if possible as this can further damage your hair.
Stress and Hair Loss
A good workout is one of the best natural stress relievers, but doing excessive exercise over long periods of time can actually lead to chronic stress. This is because high intensity exercise raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Chronic stress can lead to a condition called telogen effluvium (TE). This occurs when the hair’s natural cycle of growth, rest and shedding is interrupted, causing hair follicles to enter the rest phase and shed prematurely. TE can also be caused by a poor diet, chronic illness, certain medications and shock.
Reduce gym-related stress by not pushing yourself too hard and taking rest days in between sessions.
Steroids and Hair Loss
Steroids are a drug that some body builders use to help them put on muscle mass more quickly. They work in a similar way to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male sex hormone. Both men and women have DHT, but men have much higher levels. This is what causes them to have deeper voices, more body hair and, generally speaking, more developed muscles.
High DHT levels are also what cause some men to go bald as they age. Although steroids might not cause this to happen by themselves, if you are prone to male pattern baldness, they can speed up the process, providing another unexpected link between fitness and hair loss.
If you think that your hair loss could be due to steroids, the best thing to do is stop using them. Another way to keep DHT levels under control is by including plenty of cardio in your workout as well as weight training. This is because lifting weights can naturally increase your levels of DHT.
Quality of Sleep and Hair Loss
The absence of quality sleep and prolonged lack of restful sleep could have a myriad of negative impacts on your wellbeing- including hair loss.
To be clear, whether a person experiences male pattern baldness or not majorly depends on the individual’s underlying DNA. While lack of sleep can’t alter your DNA, it definitely affects your hormones- particularly your Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
During normal sleep cycles, the HGH is produced in higher quantities, which means better hair growth. On the other hand, sleep deprivation would mean lower production of HGH, and hence, hair thinning and loss.
While quality exercise may drastically lead to a better sleep-life, exercising a few hours before bedtime could cause insomnia. For some people, late-night exercise isn’t a problem. However, if you are on the other end of the spectrum, your fitness regimen might be causing insomnia, and hence hair loss.
Asides your fitness regimen, other circumstances such as a bad mattress could also lead to poor sleep hygiene. If you’ve got a mattress that makes you turn from one side of the bed to the other throughout the night, then you need to see SleepDelivered’s comparison of Nectar and Casper here. Pick a better mattress and you’d see your sleep routine get better- and your hair, grow longer.
Inadequate Nutrition and Hair Loss
If you exercise regularly, you will need to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients from your diet. This will help to prevent deficiencies which could lead to hair loss. It is especially important to increase your protein intake following a workout.
It has been suggested that protein shakes containing ingredients such as creatine and DHEA can lead to an increase in DHT, leading to the same problems as steroids. The best way to boost your intake is by eating more protein from natural sources such as fish, chicken and eggs.
It is also important to ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals to keep your hair healthy as well as your body. The proven vitamins for hair loss are vitamins A, B, C, D and E. The best way to get enough of these is by eating a balanced diet, but there are also many supplements available.
Dehydration can also lead to hair loss, so be sure to sip plenty of water during and after your workout.
Although exercise and hair loss can be related, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your workout doesn’t leave you thin on top. Balance your gym sessions with a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated to look after your health as well as your hair.