Does Excessive Exercise Cause Hair Loss?


A 2012 study by medical professionals found that high-level exercise training may cause hair loss. Dr. Manoj Khanna, a cosmetic and hair transplant surgeon at Enhance Aesthetic and Cosmetic Studio, reiterated this point by stating how “too much exercise and over-training disturbs the hair growth pattern and lead to hair fall” (source: deccanherald.com).

Sandhya Pandey, the chief dietitian at Columbia Asia Hospital, suggests regular exercise can be defined as exercising five days each week for approximately 45 minutes. She states that conducting any form of exercise for more than an hour every single day would be termed as ‘excessive exercise’ (source: deccanherald.com).

Source: mongooseagency.com

Excessive Sweating

 

Source: scmp.com 

Sweating excessively causes sweat to build on your scalp and this may clog your hair follicles, thus creating an undesirable environment for hair growth. Looking at a study published in the Experimental Dermatology, sweat-clogged scalp pores will cause you to scratch your scalp constantly, thereby leading to rashes and hair fall (source: healthshots.com).

In addition, your hair might become dull and dry, which would lead to breakage and shedding as well as higher chances of bacterial or fungal infections. In particular, the Skin Appendage Disorders revealed that excessive sweat is the main cause of the frontal fibrosing alopecia disorder, which is a hair condition that causes slow progressive hair loss and scarring on the scalp near the forehead.

Prolonged Exposure To Chlorine

Source: swimming.org 

If you prefer heading to the pool instead of the gym to clock in those hours of weekly exercise, you should take some extra precautions to minimize damage to your hair. 

Chlorine, commonly found in swimming pools, sucks the natural oils from your hair, leaving it dry, rough, and damaged. It also causes chemical reactions in your hair, thereby weakening each hair strand and causing split ends (source: hairpros.edu). 

Most importantly, your hair depends on keratin in order to grow. With reference to a study conducted by the Society of Cosmetic Chemistry, it stated that too much chlorine exposure alters your scalp’s pH levels. With such pH imbalance comes an undesirable environment for keratin — your scalp will produce lesser keratin, thereby disrupting your hair growth cycle (source: groomingadepts.com). 

Extra Stress

Source: verywellmind.com 

Exercising can most definitely help you to relieve stress naturally although exercising excessively over long periods of time can lead to unwanted chronic stress. I’m sure many of us are not aware of the latter — this is because high-intensity exercise induces greater levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

Chronic stress would ultimately lead to telogen effluvium, which occurs when the hair’s natural cycle of growth, rest, and shedding is interrupted, causing hair follicles to enter the resting and shedding phases prematurely (source: womanaroundtown.com). Dr. Manoj Khanna stressed that entering these premature stages would cause one to experience heavy hair fall (source: deccanherald.com). 

Developing Anemia 

Source: antidote.me 

The European Journal of Haematology stated that women who exercise excessively metabolize the iron that their blood cells depend on much faster than those who exercise in moderation. You might be wondering: how exactly does this lead to hair loss?

Upon developing anemia, your body would no longer have sufficient hemoglobin to transport oxygen. Hemoglobin is an essential element of your blood cells that transport oxygen to the body tissues that need it. In addition, hemoglobin requires iron to form. 

When your body has insufficient iron, it will simply choose where to send oxygen to and logically, it would carry oxygen to vital organs, with your hair follicles being at the bottom of the list (source: groomingadepts.com).  

Increased Testosterone Levels 

Source: telegraph.co.uk 

Your body naturally increases its testosterone levels with each exercise. However, all bodies are capable of ‘compensating’ the rise in testosterone levels to an extent. But what happens if your body raises its testosterone levels beyond the limit that your body can compensate? You’ll experience hair loss.

One particular form of testosterone, DHT, shrinks the hair follicles. Initially, this only leads to thinner hair. But eventually, the hair follicles will shrink to the point that they can no longer produce hair. 

Leaky Gut Syndrome 

Source: medicalnewstoday.com 

Your guts have cell walls that allow the right nutrients to seep through into the bloodstream while preventing toxins from entering it. Intensive exercise can cause you to develop the leaky gut syndrome, which affects how well your body absorbs nutrients and where toxins end up in your body.

If you eventually become incapable of consuming sufficient zinc, vitamin E, or vitamin A, the cells on your scalp would not be able to thrive and promote hair growth. In addition, triggering inflammatory processes would cause the hair follicles to struggle, which in turn reduces hair growth even more (source: groomingadepts.com)

Reduction In Serotonin And Tryptophan Production

Source: sleepscore.com 

Both the hormones serotonin and tryptophan are needed to help you to achieve a good night’s sleep. In particular, tryptophan plays an important role in regulating your growth factors and reducing inflammation. 

When you exercise excessively, your body produces lesser of these hormones. Since you need both serotonin and tryptophan to sleep better at night, which is the period of time your body cells regenerate, you would, unfortunately, be reducing the amount of bedtime needed to repair the damage your hair follicles encounter throughout the day.

Conclusion

It is very important to pump in those extra hours of working out at the park, gym, pool, or even at home because exercising regularly helps you to maintain good circulation and ensures good health of your heart. 

Despite exercise and hair loss being related to each other, you should not use this as an excuse to cut down on your weekly exercises. By taking the necessary steps and precautions, you would be able to workout without worrying if it would leave you thinning and balding at the top!



Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form

Alicia Goh
I spend most of my time playing touch rugby, catching up on the latest kdramas and searching for the latest beauty and hair trends. Following some of the quite chemically damaging hair trends such as hair rebonding and colouring over the years, I've started to keep up to those trends that'll help me get that smooth and shiny hair that many always wanted.

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