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Will Running Reduce Cellulite?

author image Craig Smith
Craig Smith covers weight loss and exercise programming for various online publications. He has been a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise since 2001. Smith also holds a diploma in exercise physiology and kinesiology from the National Personal Training Institute.
Will Running Reduce Cellulite?
A fit woman jogging down the beach. Photo Credit fatchoi/iStock/Getty Images

You might be embarrassed by the cellulite on your thighs, hips or tush, but you're not the only one who has it. While both genders can have cellulite, it's more common for women than men. The dimpled look of cellulite is caused by fat that collects in pockets located just below the surface of your skin.

It's not easy to get rid of cellulite, particularly because it can be a genetic condition. However, a solid running routine, in conjunction with a healthy diet, can help manage your weight, so cellulite isn't as prominent.

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite stems from fibrous tissue that connects the skin to the muscle below the surface. As fat cells accrue from weight gain, they begin to push up against the skin, creating a dimpled appearance. Cellulite is usually identified as skin with a "cottage cheese" or "orange peel" look. Instances of this condition range from mild cases that are only visible when the skin is pinched to severe cases that cause skin to appear bumpy and uneven all the time.

Cellulite affects approximately 90 percent of women and just 10 percent of men, according to Scientific American. It typically begins to appear between the ages of 25 and 35.

Running for Reduction

If there's one tactic for reducing cellulite — not an easy task — it's losing weight. Of course, running regularly can help you lose weight. An hour of running at a 12-minute-mile pace (around 5 mph) burns approximately 500 calories, depending on your weight. This can go a long way in helping you lose weight; however, it's only effective when paired with a calorie-controlled, nutritious diet. It is important to note that weight loss will not completely remove cellulite, but you'll likely see a reduction.
Running works your upper-leg muscles, one of the places most commonly affected by the condition.

Preventing Cellulite

If you haven't experienced cellulite yet, do what you can to ward it off. While there is no proven method to prevent cellulite accumulation, maintaining a healthy body weight and following consistent strength-training program can aid in preserving skin tone and texture.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control recommend that you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. This could include running. Additionally do at least two days of strength-training for a minimum of 20 minutes at a time.

A Healthy Running Routine

If you're not a regular runner, start slowly. Put on your running shoes and hit the trail or treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, going at a slower pace than you feel is necessary. As your body gets used to the stress it's facing from the running, you can increase your pace and your mileage. However, each week, you should only boost your mileage by 10 percent. For example, if you start by running 2 miles, increase it to 2.2 miles the following week. This gradual build prevents you from injury or burnout.

Once you feel like a regular runner, incorporate hill runs. This will further recruit your upper-leg muscles and do even more to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Add Other Workouts

It's not a good idea to run every single day, as your body needs a break from it every few days. You might also consider swimming as a complement to a running routine, as it also works your upper-leg muscles. Lower-body strength training, including squats and lunges, can help tone the muscles and give your skin a smoother appearance.

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