Does over-exercising lead to hair loss? There is an association between over-exercising, especially in low-intensity exercise, and hair loss but it is no definite cause-and-effect analysis. What constitutes over-exercising or its intensity is also subjective and depends on your lifestyle.
Trichologist Arisa Watanabe defines over-exercising or excessive exercise as more than three to four hours every day. While the number of hours may sound daunting to many, it is a normal routine for fitness enthusiasts or athletes.
Studies have shown that both the physical and psychological demands during intense exercises are referred to as “stress”, with at least 20% to a good proportion of athletes suffering from the stress induced by over-exercising and inadequate recovery. Prolonged stress levels undoubtedly lead to poor hair health, affecting hair growth and even promoting hair loss.
- A 2017 survey in 1,716 people (1,182 normal, 534 people with hair loss) found that the total amount of exercise was larger in the group with hair loss than the normal group. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
You might be no stranger to the benefits of exercising on your health and body, but what about your hair? For the most part, if you’re an average human looking to start your fitness journey or you aren’t completely used to exercising frequently just yet, you might want to read on to find out how excessive exercise can impact your hair health.
- Higher Chances of Telogen Effluvium
Also commonly known as increased hair shedding, excessive exercises coupled with the lack of proper nutrition to supplement the workout regime can lead to premature hair loss. Over a period of time, over-exercising may cause your body to enter a chronic state of stress which eventually leads to increased chances of telogen effluvium.
Trichologist Kate Holden once shared that people with telogen effluvium “tend to notice more hair in their hairbrush or the shower, a general thinning in volume and density of the hair, and eventual frizz and flyaways as the hair regrows”, a result of hair shedding.
It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to pair with your exercises to restore hair health and eliminate chances of hair loss.
- Does workout sweat cause hair loss
Contrary to popular belief, when you exercise too much and sweat as a result, it may lead to hair loss. Sweat is made up of water and natural salts, so when they’re triggered by over-exercising and intense workouts, sweat and your scalp’s sebum oil can harm your hair follicles and block your pores, causing them to be clogged and damaged over time. The build-up of sweat on your scalp causes your hair cells to lose vitality, resulting in dull and dry hair, and is also more susceptible to breakage.
- For the males out there, the most common cause of hair loss is male pattern baldness, which causes your hair follicles to shrink gradually. When you over-exercise, your hair follicles may be further damaged and increase the visibility of balding due to hair loss.
- For females, hair loss can be triggered by stress levels or prolonged tight hairstyles. In fact, many females like to tie their hair in a tight ponytail or braid to prevent hair from getting in their way during exercises. Frequent exercise or workout means keeping your hair back often, and this constant tension in the roots can accelerate hair loss over time.
It is important to always stay hydrated in between your exercises and workouts, as well as to rinse or wash your hair with cold water if possible, to prevent and combat hair loss problems.
I remember when I was staying on campus, we used to have toilet cubicles with posters promoting and pushing for individuals to wash their hairs with cold water once in a while, as it helps to prevent hair loss and simultaneously helps to cut down on electricity! For someone who always had to deal with hair loss issues, I tried washing my hair with cold water at least twice a week and subsequently noticed lesser strands on the floor as well as in my hair tie after a few months. This practice was also accompanied by the usage of hair tonic products to maintain healthy hair.
- Excessive Stress Levels
While regular exercise can help to reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins, excessive exercise may increase your cortisol level, which is the primary stress hormone. Overtraining causes bodily and emotive anxiety, fatigue, and irritation over time, which can take a toll on your mental health.
- 2015 study in PLOS One found that older men with a high level of cardiorespiratory fitness release 42 percent less cortisol throughout the day than unfit men do.
High-intensity exercises undoubtedly increase cortisol levels, and prolonged chronic stress may lead to hair shedding. As much as overtraining helps you to get better at the sport or activity, it does more harm than good to your overall health.
You might be wondering why some workout regimes or schedules have at least a rest day every week – rest days are to rejuvenate your body, to allow your muscles to recover from any damage sustained during workouts. When you do not give your body ample time to rest in between, it will subsequently take a toll on your body’s health.
Even though over-exercising may lead to cases of hair loss, moderate exercises accompanied by proper diet and nutrition do help with hair regrowth!
Exercise is an important part of hair health, as regular exercise improves blood circulation around the body including the hair, and brings about essential nutrients to the hair follicles as well as scalp. Working out often can also help you to lower stress levels, which reduces the risk of hair shedding conditions and issues.
That being said, excessive exercise is detrimental to your hair health, or mental health which overtly leads to cases of hair loss, just like how it can negatively impact other parts of your body when exercises are not done in moderation, or your body is not given ample time to rest.
Balance is key, so do everything in moderation to keep your hair healthy and growing!