We Asked the Derms: Can Running Get Rid of Cellulite?

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It’s unfortunate (and frustrating), sure. But the fact remains that 90 percent of women have cellulite in some form. “Cellulite doesn’t discriminate. It affects women of all shapes, sizes, ages and races,” says Carolyn Jacob, M.D., founder and director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.

Now, let’s get into the facts. Cellulite is caused by three biological factors: your fibrous bands, skin laxity and your fat cells (we all have them). Underneath the skin is a pattern of fibrous bands that tether the skin to the underlying muscle with fat lying in between. Over time these bands thicken, which causes tension on the skin above it. The fat cells then push into the skin, while the thickened fibrous bands pull down, creating an uneven skin surface (aka dimples). However, despite this fact, women surveyed in a recent study believed the top three causes of cellulite were either: weight gain, lack of exercise or an unhealthy diet.

So what’s the deal? Can exercise help, or is it a moot point?

First of all: Yes, exercise can strengthen the tissue beneath dimpled skin. But that can’t all happen on a treadmill. You should really be hitting the free weights and kettle bells to smooth out skin at the muscular level. (Then any additional cardio can help you manage those weight fluctuations.) But runner beware: While this exercise might help the appearance of your cellulite, if you still have those thickened fibrous bands, odds are you still have cellulite. “Fibrous bands are permanent. You really have to do something to cut, interrupt, or alter that fibrous band to improve cellulite,” says Melanie Palm, MD, Dermatologist Solana Beach, CA.

Though exercise can help to control the amount of fat that is tethered by the cords, it can only do so much. Cardio workouts like running and jumping rope can help keep fat cells at bay, which in turn may reduce the appearance of dimply skin, “but it will not get rid of it,” Dr. Jacob reiterates.

So there you have it, folks. Running and cardio won’t eliminate the puckery divots completely, but you will have some stronger thighs and lungs to show off as a result. A win-win if you ask us.

angela pares
Angela Pares

VP, Branded Content

Angela Pares is the VP of Branded Content at Gallery Media Group, where she oversees the ideation and execution of sponsored content campaigns across PureWow, ONE37pm and the...
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