Author: Sarah Belgravia
One of the upsides to the prevalence of social media is its role in encouraging people to get into fitness activities – and share photos of them doing so, of course.
As a result, a March 2017 poll by Hammerson found that almost 70 per cent of Londoners admitted to being ‘style conscious’ about how they looked whilst working out. Of all those surveyed across the UK, 29 per cent – so almost a third – revealed they spend as much on their workout gear as they do on their regular clothing.
The South East also topped the UK’s ‘fittest regions’ table, with 39 per cent of locals exercising four or more times per week. Runners up in this category were the West Midlands at 31 per cent and Scotland and the East Midlands who tied at 29 per cent.
Everything in moderation
Although London and the South East came out on top, they are by no means the only areas concerned about looking good while they exercise. Hammerson’s poll discovered 43 per cent of those surveyed across the UK agreed that it is important for them to look stylish when they hit the gym.
Whilst exercise is undoubtedly good for us, as with anything, the key is moderation and ensuring you do what is right for your body. ‘Moderation’ doesn’t mean not pushing yourself – it simply means keeping a healthy balance between the intensity of your workouts and your rest periods, so that you don’t go full throttle every day.
It can also help you to avoid certain hair loss conditions which can occur when the body gets overwhelmed by the stress brought on by exercising excessively. Furthermore, it may also prevent accelerating shedding in those with an existing genetic predisposition towards hereditary hair loss – better known as Male Pattern Baldness or, in women, Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Types of exercise that can affect hair loss
Dan Mennell, a certified personal trainer at Run Jump Lift UK, advises: “Many people don’t equate exercise as a stress but it most certainly is! Your body gets fitter and stronger by adapting positively to the stresses you place on it while exercising. However, exercise stress doesn’t exist independently of other stresses in your life. If you’re stressed and tired, you simply can’t handle exercise stresses and adapt positively to them. This can lead to less desirable outcomes and definitely start to contribute towards problems such as hair loss.”
“Exercise, at least, is a form of stress that we can control,” Mennell notes. “If you’re suffering from a lot of stress in your day-to-day life, cutting back on exercise intensity or the number of training days is sensible as it reduces the amount of stress.”
“It’s very rarely a good idea to remove exercise entirely, as light or moderate exercise has many stress-fighting benefits. But making workouts shorter, less intense and limiting the amount of heavy weight lifting can certainly start to lower exercise-induced stress levels.”
This advice regarding intense workouts, such as weightlifting, that are designed to help people ‘bulk up’ is particularly pertinent to hair loss as these types of training are considered more likely to speed up hair loss in cases of male pattern baldness – or even trigger this common hereditary condition where there is an existing genetic predisposition. Conversely, aerobic exercise is thought to be more beneficial in its contribution towards healthy hair.
Dealing with stress-related hair loss
Dan suggests that, when you’re under stress, you may want to limit your workouts to two moderate sessions per week. “Include a variety of exercise types – some strength training to maintain proper posture and strength in key muscle groups such as your upper back, posterior chain and core, and some form of interval training to train both anaerobic and aerobic components of fitness,” he explains. Adding: “Many people also find that more frequent bouts of lower intensity activity such as frequent walking, stretching or yoga can be very beneficial not only for maintaining fitness but also minimising and reducing stress. These can be included around the two moderate sessions of exercise each week.”
There are various different conditions that can occur as a result of stress – emotional or, as in this particular sense, physical – the most common of which is Telogen Effluvium. This tends to become noticeable around three months after it is sparked and can often clear up of its own accord in around six months. It is more common in women but can also affect men and Telogen Effluvium treatment that is suitable for both sexes is available to help promote hair growth.
Whilst this causes temporary hair loss from all over the scalp in the form of diffuse thinning, it can accelerate the shedding process in men and women who already have androgenetic alopecia. It can also trigger this permanent hair loss condition in people with a genetic predisposition even if they had not shown any signs previously. If this is diagnosed, there are clinically-proven hair loss treatments that can be used as part of a bespoke course customised to each individual’s specific needs, to help prevent further shedding and promote hair growth.
Though its biological process is something of a mystery, Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disorder which causes sudden, patchy hair loss anywhere on the scalp, is known to have a number of triggers, one of which is extreme stress. Although far less common than female and male pattern hair loss, it is next in line as the most frequently seen hair loss condition worldwide and can be incredibly distressing, especially as whether regrowth will occur or whether, if the hair does grow back, it will go again at a later date, is unknown. Alopecia Areata treatment can be helpful in many cases, and specialist hair loss clinics can provide not only professionally tailored courses but also additional support which clients often find comforting and reassuring.
Anyone concerned about thinning hair or sudden hair fall during or following periods of intense stress or after taking up intense new exercise regimes should seek specialist help as early as possible. Firstly, they should consider speaking with a fitness professional about putting together a less strenuous training routine to address the underlying cause of their stress and hair loss. Secondly, a dedicated hair loss clinic will be able to offer constructive advice on the cause and recommended treatments to help reverse any hair fall issues.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.