A little-known secret to healthier, thicker hair isn’t in a bottle. The secret? Take the time a few times a week to get a decent cardio workout.
Hair thinning, both for male and females, is a tough fact of life. Some of us simply lose hair as we get older. Others go through a major life change, such as pregnancy, that causes hair loss. While there are a lot of anti-ageing supplements, hair rinses, and other tools on the market to help those of us afflicted with this problem, it can get a bit overwhelming.
That’s why natural causes tend to be well researched and simply more sensible. And nothing can really match making sure you get exercise several times a week. In our fitness-obsessed world, when people talk about cardio, they usually focus on other elements of weight loss and maintenance. You hear a lot about calories and heart rate at the gym or in a running club. But that’s just a small part of the equation when it comes to the benefits of cardio fitness.
Causes of Hair Loss
Intensive or obsessive exercise isn’t the only culprit that causes thinning hair. Here are a few other causes of hair loss, according to WebMD:
- Thyroid disorders: A lack of thyroid hormone, or, quick hormone fluctuations can be caused by thyroid disease. If your hair loss is quick, see your doctor for testing.
- Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss across your body.
- Emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one or another traumatic event.
- Physical trauma, from something such as a car accident, a serious illness, or allergic reaction.
- Ringworm or fungal infections. This type of hair loss can impact even strong hair.
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia or too little vitamin C.
- Hair styling or harsh styling products. Overuse of curling irons and hairspray is a good example.
As you can see, there are a number of things that can stunt hair growth and contribute to hair health. Cardio helps hair growth by targeting several of these causes of hair loss and providing solutions.
Yes, Cardio Can Be Good for Hair Growth
Cardio increases hair growth in a number of ways, which makes it an excellent way to prevent hair loss, too.
- Cardio helps you cope with emotional stress. As mentioned before, it’s common to have hair loss a few months after severe emotional stress. Emotional stress is one of the biggest causes of hair loss in the modern world. All of us handle emotional distress in our own ways, but exercise has proven time and time again to be an important contributor to mental health. In fact, research shows that cardio workouts are a good way to reduce stress.
- Cardio helps you sleep better. Regular exercise has also been shown to help people sleep, even when you’re stressed. This means that your body will have plenty of time to heal while you’re sleeping. Sleep is essential to hormone regulation, and again, improving your mood. A better mood makes for stronger hair and at the same time, helps your body restore the natural hair growth cycle.
- Cardio helps reduce inflammation. Autoimmune diseases are the result of the body attacking other parts of the body, causing inflammation. Reducing the inflammation in your body can help redirect some of your body’s nutrients to your scalp, promoting hair growth.
- Sweat from cardio exercise can help you detox. It’s a natural way to flush substances from your body. Toxins and other body waste exit your body through sweat. If you’re doing it right, cardio exercise will make you sweat, and urinate once you’ve replenished your water supply.
- Cardio also helps stimulate hair follicles. Sweat can actually push out dead cells and help regenerate new ones. Your body’s circulation will also be greatly improved, promoting healing and delivering vital nutrients.
Intense Cardio and Weightlifting: Proceed with Caution
While some experts claim that hormonal changes caused by intense exercise can contribute to hair loss, the research really doesn’t back this up much. Is cardio good for hair growth? Yes, it can be. But if you’re somebody pushing him or herself to the limit, taking a lot of supplements that are meant to give your body more testosterone, or spend a ton of time lifting weight at the gym as well, you are more prone to hormonal changes. Hormonal changes are what drive hair loss in most cases.
Weight-lifters and competitive athletes often experience hair loss when they push themselves to the limit – this is due to a lack of rest and overworking the body’s systems. This isn’t going to happen to somebody who runs a few times a week with a break in between sessions. It’s much more likely to happen to somebody who exercises for hours a day, every day or lifts weights with intensity and no day off. However, those in professional sports may continue to see hair thinning for an entire season. It will only regrow once there is a period of rest.
Chronic, excessive exercise, whether it’s weight-lifting or long-distance running without any breaks, can suppress baseline levels of testosterone and HGH. This hormonal imbalance promotes excessive cortisol production and suppresses HGH secretion. When this happens, your body will shed hair like it normally does – which is in a cycle similar to the calendar seasons. Unfortunately, that hair will not be replaced for some time if you continue to exercise in excess.
Shedding hair is normal and healthy, however, sometimes the body will shed more hair than it is supposed to. Usually, your hair grows back and the cycle is repeated. That is what a normal hair growth cycle does.
Exercising in excess causes stress and trauma to your cells. Because of this, the body will divert its energy and nutrition to healing (and building) your muscles rather than replenish hair cells. The hairs, and fingernails, too, are the last parts of your body to be nourished when there is any kind of damage in your body.
Getting Started With Cardio for Hair and Health
Good exercises for hair growth really depend on your current level of fitness and your overall health. Walking is always a good place to start if you’re not sure what kind of cardio would be good for you. It’s always important to consult a doctor to find out what kind of shape you’re currently in, health-wise, especially if you’ve experienced recent hair loss. This way, you can also find out any specific health issues that have contributed to your thinning hair, as well.
If you’re looking to grow stronger hair, there are a few other healthy habits to get into. Make sure you don’t use harsh chemicals on your hair or pull or tug on it while it’s wet.
Consider taking a supplement or vitamins to help with hair loss if you’ve decided to exercise regularly. Iron and potassium are often needed in larger amounts to recovery post-workout. Drink enough water, and you’ll probably recover more easily every time you do a cardio workout. And do your best to learn to relax once your exercise session is finished.