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Exercise and Hair Growth

by
author image Linda Tarr Kent
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.
Exercise and Hair Growth
Exercise can either enhance or detract from hair growth. Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Luis Markovic

Conditions that affect the body can also affect hair growth. That's because your hair health reflects your overall health. In some cases, exercise boosts body health and thus promotes a strong hair growth cycle. Exercise can be especially helpful in mitigating conditions that hormone imbalances contribute to, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, in which women suffer unwanted hair, as well as in improving conditions such as diabetes, which can lead to hair loss.

Overall Health

Anything that improves your overall health, including exercise, will improve your body's ability to grow hair, according to nationally-known nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. There is a caveat, however. Excessive exercise over time places stress on the body, causing the adrenal glands to release the stress hormone cortisol. If this occurs long-term, the glands' ability to produce cortisol is compromised, and overall health is diminished, putting people at risk for compromised immune system, poor sleep, inflammation, fibromyalgia and other disorders.

Heavy Weight Lifting

A November 2004 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that heavy exercise combined with increased fat intake increased free testosterone in people doing strength training. The combination helps the weight lifters build and repair muscle, but can cause hair loss.

Hormonal Profile in Men

A 2004 study published in the journal of the German Society of Endocrinology indicates that exercise can help lower stress and increase sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG, which is lower among men who experience hair loss prior to age 30. The study also concluded that the hormonal pattern of some men with premature balding resembles the hormonal pattern among women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

PCOS

Daily exercise and a healthy diet are important in treating polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to GirlsHealth.gov. This condition results from a hormone imbalance that can cause unwanted hair growth, irregular periods and acne. The condition can begin during teen years.

Scleroderma

The National Institutes of Health recommend exercise as a solution to scleroderma, which can cause hair loss because it stimulates circulation to the affected areas. Swimming is the top recommendation. Scleroderma is the hardening of skin caused by abnormal growth in connective tissue that supports skin.

Hirsutism

A January, 2002 study published in the Canadian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that exercise and weight loss can help improve the condition called hirsutism in which women experience excessive hair growth in areas such as the face and body. These lifestyle changes help to lower serum androgen levels. Androgens are male hormones that have a strong impact on hair growth on the face, chest, underarm and pubic areas. When the body produces too much of these hormones, it's called hyperandrogenism. Other symptoms of this can include obesity, hypertension, heart disease, irregular menses, infertility and diabetes.

Perimenopause

Symptoms of perimenopause such as hair loss or thinning hair on the head can be alleviated in part with exercise, according to WomensHealth.gov. The organization recommends at least 30 minutes of daily exercise most days of the week. This also will help women maintain weight, sleep better, gain strong bones and elevate mood.

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