Whenever I go for a run or do cardio at the gym, my face turns an embarrassingly deep shade of red and refuses to calm down for hours after my workout. This “cardio blush” causes me some embarrassment after my workout and certainly gets me some looks as I walk back to the office. Is there something I am doing wrong during my workout that is causing this? Is there any way of avoiding it or any techniques that will help tone it down?
There are several possible causes of your exercise “blush.”
- If you are taking either niacin or a high dose of vitamin B, you can experience a hot flushed feeling over the chest and face that is harmless but annoying. The latter is often found in “energy drinks.” This flush is caused by a compound called nicotinuric acid, which can cause dilation of blood vessels. In most cases, the flush can be improved by simply staying very well hydrated and by making sure you consume any niacin or vitamin B with your larger meals of the day. Aspirin can also help break a flush.
- Asthma or bronchoconstriction can give you a red face. Inadequate oxygen can cause a rush of blood to the extremities, so you may want to inspect your breathing habits before, during and after your workout. Learn deep breathing exercises and practice each day expanding your lungs and performing deep diaphragmatic breathing, especially before exercise. One highly effective drill involves breathing deeply in through the nose, holding the breath within your stomach for five to 10 seconds, then slowly exhaling through pursed lips.
- Exercise and heat can trigger a condition called “rosacea,” in which you have an abnormal amount of blood vessels in your face. Typically, in addition to facial redness and flushing, you’ll notice prominent facial blood vessels, thickening and redness of the nose and large oil glands (yellowish bumps on the face). If you notice these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you see a dermatologist, who can prescribe medications to manage the type of bacteria that can cause rosacea.