Preventing that Saggy ‘Runner’s Face’

Now here at I think it comes to no one’s surprise that we are big, and I mean BIG, fans of cardio exercise. We’ve told you all about the many benefits of cardio exercise, yet we never really talk about anything not necessarily so awesome that can come out of cardio exercise.

Worried About WrinklesSome people claim loose, saggy skin can result from different forms of long-term cardio exercise, such as running, also referred to as “runner’s face”. Yet don’t think that means we are telling you to tuck away those treadmills and hand up those running shoes quite yet.

Fortunately for us Shape Magazine met with Dr. Gerald Imber, a “noted plastic surgeon and author, to get his opinion on the phenomenon of the saggy ‘runner’s face’ to find out if there’s anything that can be done to prevent it.” Check out their findings here, but we thought we’d share a few matters we found to be important with our readers to ensure you are all informed and don’t shy away from running!

Now while there are many factors that can affect your skin’s elasticity such as genetics and lifestyle habits such as drinking, smoking, and sun exposure. So it’s not simply the act of running that can cause the skin to sag. While Dr. Imber stated it is common in long-time runners.

“’Any high-impact exercise, like running, causes a jolt to the skin, which can tear up the collagen in the skin,’ Dr. Imber says. ‘It doesn’t happen over night, but it is one of the downsides to running.’” Now although this break down does take a long time to happen, once the facial muscles start to sag there is not a whole lot you can do at this point to repair it.

Clear Running SkinThis is where we all begin to stress right?! Well relax, “while nothing can reverse the process once it starts, there are things you can do to prevent your facial skin muscles from sagging in the first place.” Dr. Imber suggests that if your goal is to lose weight, do so by maintaining a slow and steady weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week, “this will give your skin time to adjust to the fat loss and minimize the amount of sagging you see.”

Another prevention tip is to always wear sunscreen when you’re outside, even in the winter. Also a diet full of fresh fruits and veggies will help prevent sagging. Fruits and veggies are packed with “carotenoids (think lycopene in tomatoes, alpha-carotene in carrots, and beta-carotene in spinach), that promote cell turnover and strengthen your skin cells.”

Shape also published another article titled 8 Exercise Induced Skin Afflictions that stated the constant pavement/treadbelt pounding may not be to blame for the so called “runner’s face”. They say that “some experts believe that ‘cardio and running can cause more oxygen or free-radical damage, which can break or damage the skin’s supportive fibers (collagen and elastin),’ says Dr. Annet King, director of training and education at Dermalogica.”

The article went on to explain “a 2008 study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, only very strenuous exercise leads to signs of cell damage while moderate exercise – defined as exercising at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate three to five days per week – has a rejuvenating effect on skin. And don’t worry: HIIT is in the safe zone. The detrimental effects don’t kick in until after 90 minutes of running at about 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, the scientist say.”

The take away from these articles, “if you love running, don’t give it up. As long as you lead a healthy and active lifestyle, the benefits to running outweigh the potential side effects of sagging skin.”