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.