It's no secret that regular exercise is crucial to our health and everyday wellbeing, but does exercise stop hair loss?
As it turns out, the benefits of regular exercise are felt far beyond our weight and fitness, and may actually help prevent certain types of hair loss.
Hair loss can be caused by a number of different triggers, from stress and nutrient deficiencies to male pattern baldness. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, then, can help prevent hair loss.
On the other hand, though, over-exercising can actually cause excessive hair shedding, so like all good things, moderation is key.
In this article, we'll break down the connection between exercise and hair, so you'll know exactly what's what when it comes to preventing and stopping hair loss.
Can exercise stop hair loss?
Okay, let's be clear: working out is not going to stop all types of hair loss dead in its tracks.
If you're dealing with male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), that is a form of genetic hair loss that will often require medical treatment, but exercise can still help slow the process.
It's not so much that hitting the gym can stop hair loss, so much as it can help prevent certain types of hair loss, specifically telogen effluvium (TE).
Telogen effluvium is all over thinning hair that's caused by severe stress to the body. Usually occurring about three months after a stressful event, TE means that the hair follicles are shocked into dormancy too early in the hair growth cycle.
TE is one of the most common forms of hair loss and can be triggered by chronic or intense stress. This is where regular exercise can help prevent hair loss.
Regular cardio is vital for our overall health and wellbeing. Not only does exercise help our bodies stay physically healthy by promoting good blood circulation and reducing inflammation, but it also benefits our psychological wellbeing as well.
Cardio releases endorphins and serotonin, which boosts happiness and helps reduce our stress levels. When our stress levels are well regulated, our hair will cycle through its growth stages naturally, leaving us with strong, healthy hair.
Regular exercise can also result in a better night's sleep, and quality sleep is crucial to reduced stress levels and overall health.
For those experiencing male pattern baldness, exercising can help slow the hair loss process by keeping us healthy. Specifically, when the body produces too much of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), it can spur on male pattern baldness.
And, regular, moderate levels of exercise can help regulate hormone levels, which can help prevent hair loss. On the other hand, too much exercise can actually increase DHT levels. More on that later.
What kinds of exercise stop hair loss?
When it comes to stopping hair loss, not all exercise is created equal.
While some forms of exercise are full of healthy hair benefits, others can actually increase the likelihood of hair loss. Let's break it down.
Generally speaking, regular forms of cardio exercise, like jogging, a brisk walk, or a bike ride, will get your blood pumping, and drop your stress and DHT levels, which is good for hair health.
Still, if you're exercising out in the Aussie sun, it's important to enforce the old school playground rule of 'no hat, no play' in order to protect your hair. Sun damage to your hair is real, and the Cleveland Clinic reports that it can result in hair loss, as well as damaged hair that breaks easily.
Swimming can also do a number on your hair, especially if you're swimming outdoors or in a chlorinated pool.
Not only are you up against sun damage, but the salt water of the beach or chemicals of the pool can leave your scalp and hair follicles in poor shape, resulting in hair that's prone to breakage and falling out.
To protect your hair, you can wear a swim cap, or wash your hair after your swim. For an added boost, using products like Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner can be an extra line of defence.
If your workout routine is heavy on the heavy lifting, it may actually be speeding up your hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre reports that "frequent intense anaerobic workouts that are designed to build body mass are considered more likely to speed up hair loss in cases of male and female pattern baldness".
This is because frequent, intense bodybuilding sessions can spike DHT levels, which can accelerate male pattern baldness.
Pilot's personalised hair loss treatment includes an oral medication that works by blocking the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT and in turn, helps to reduce hair loss.
In fact, roughly two in three men that use this medication will experience hair growth, while the remaining third won't experience further hair loss.
What about hair regrowth? Can exercise help there?
If you're dealing with telogen effluvium, moderate amounts of cardio exercise can absolutely help you get your hair growing once again.
As you're addressing whatever's caused your TE — whether it be stress, nutrient deficiency, or something else — exercise can play a crucial role in getting your health, and hair, back on track.
"Regular physical exercise is a simple and effective means of reducing stress," reports Anxiety Australia.
"Physical exercise is the outlet for the body when it’s in the fight or flight state. Exercise releases the natural chemicals — such as adrenalin — that accumulate during stress. Exercise relieves chronic muscle tension, reduces insomnia and decreases depression and anxiety."
By increasing your serotonin and endorphin levels, and decreasing your stress hormones, you'll be setting your hair up for success.
On the other hand, overexercising can actually cause TE and accelerate the development of male pattern baldness, so moderation is key.
How much exercise is too much exercise?
If you're overexercising or losing weight rapidly as a result of too much exercise, it's possible that you could be exacerbating your hair loss.
Overexercising, especially when paired with crash diets or restrictive diets, can often put the body under a lot of stress, which can then trigger telogen effluvium.
When it comes to overall health and fitness, moderation is always key. It's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and to engage with moderate exercise on a regular basis.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recommended that men aged 18-64:
- Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week
- Do muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
If you're unsure where to start, or you suspect that you might be overdoing it, it's always best to consult a doctor or nutritionist.
Can workout supplements cause hair loss?
Like bodybuilding, some workout supplements can spike your testosterone levels, which can spur on male pattern baldness.
If you're concerned about this, it's best to stick to natural protein sources, like fish, eggs and nuts.
Does sweating during exercise cause hair loss?
Just like the salt of the ocean can contribute to hair loss, so can sweat. Sweat contains natural salts, which can end up drying out hair follicles, as well as clogging them and damaging them.
This can cause breakage and encourage hair loss. The best way to combat this is to rinse or wash your hair after a workout.
Treatments for excessive exercise-related hair loss
Hair loss can be a red flag for quite a few health problems, so it's always best to seek medical advice in order to make sure you're treating any underlying conditions.
With that said, there are a few ways you can treat exercise-related hair loss, the first being to make sure you're not overdoing it. Remember, everything in moderation.
If you think overexercising is causing your hair loss, it may be time to recalibrate your fitness routine to something less intense.
Another key factor when it comes to hair loss and exercise is nutrition.
A healthy, balanced diet will ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, not only to fuel your body and workouts but to keep your hair healthy and strong, also.
Likewise, your body needs enough sleep to rest and repair overnight, so make sure you're not burning the candle at both ends.
With those lifestyle factors in place, there are some over-the-counter things you can use to boost your hair health. These include:
- Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo and Conditioner — New hair follicles need an environment in which they can survive and thrive. Our carefully formulated Thicken Shampoo and Keep Conditioner bundle has been made to give fledgling follicles the best possible start at life.
- Pilot's Biotin Hair Gummies — These gummies are packed with Biotin, aka vitamin B7. Biotin is important because it supports the synthesis of Keratin, the protective protein that makes up your hair (and makes it stronger and less prone to damage).
- Pilot's Derma Roller — By gently rolling the Derma Roller over your scalp, these tiny needles rupture the outer layer of the dermis, creating blood flow to the area, and triggering a healing reaction in the scalp. By activating the scalp’s stem cells, surrounding follicles are stimulated, resulting in hair growth.
When it comes to hair loss, though, time is of the essence, and often, successful treatment requires medical intervention.
At Pilot, we offer personalised hair loss treatment plans that have been developed by Dr. Knudsen, one of Australia's best hair loss experts with over 35 years of experience.
We believe that the key to the successful treatment of hair loss is getting the right ingredients, in the right dosages. It's all about what's best for you.
We're proud to tell you that over 80 per cent of men who use this treatment keep their hair, and we'd love to help you.
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures