Men and women can suffer from hair loss, but usually for different reasons and in different areas. Complete hair loss leading to baldness occurs more often in men and is usually considered irreversible.
General hair loss occurs more often in women, and is caused by many factors, such as hormonal changes, psychological stress, diet and various diseases. While baldness starts on the sides of the forehead and the center of the scalp, hair loss can occur anywhere.
It is important that anyone experiencing hair loss consults a doctor to understand the possible causes and how to treat them. Many types of hair loss are reversible with treatments that can stop the loss and restore growth.
One factor that can have a strong impact on hair health and growthfor better or for worse, is an exercise.
How does exercise affect hair?
Physical activity is known to improve blood flow in the cells and tissues of the body, which is important for hair health because increased blood flow contributes to the opening of the pores on the scalp. This enriches hair follicles with nutrients necessary for their growth and maintenance.
This is also shown by studies physical activity releases endorphins, chemicals that help relax and reduce stress. Since hair loss is often caused by stress, reducing stress through exercise can also be a way to reduce hair loss.
However, intense physical activity can also have the opposite intended effect and actually cause temporary hair loss as it disrupts the natural hair growth cycle and can also damage the delicate hair follicles.
This is especially true for physical activities that cause sweating because the salt in the sweat and the regular accumulation of salt on the scalp can damage the health of the hair over time.
Exercises that are good – and bad – for hair health
A 2001 study found a link between increased blood flow to the scalp and thicker, stronger hair. Since then, additional research has been conducted showing that aerobic physical activity such as cycling, jogging, brisk walking and swimming can increase red blood cell production and improve blood circulation.
These activities can reduce cortisol, the hormone that causes stress. A study published in 2015 in the journal PLOS One found that aerobic fitness training can reduce cortisol levels in people who exercise by an average of 42 percent on the day of exercise and lower in the days after.
On the other hand, excessively strenuous activity can produce the opposite effect, especially if it involves demanding strength training. Experts point out that lifting weights can increase hair loss, especially in men. Aerobic training is better for hair health than exercises aimed at building muscle mass.
It is very important to take a shower soon after training, in order to quickly wash off the sweat and salt from the scalp. It is also better to use cold water instead of hot, as using very hot water can strip the scalp of essential oils that contribute to hair health and growth. Excessively hot water can also cause dryness and inflammation of the scalp, leading to increased hair loss.
Exercising regularly but not too strenuously, finding ways to relieve stress and eating a healthy diet can help reduce hair loss and lead to an overall improvement in health and quality of life.