What is cellulite?
Cellulite is an alteration of the topography of the skin that mainly occurs in women of all races; however, it is more common in Caucasian females rather than those of an eastern heritage. This condition is described as the orange peel effect due to the dimpling of the skin, located in any area of the body that contains subcutaneous adipose tissue. It is predominantly found on the thighs and buttocks. Cellulite is also known as “adiposis edematosa”, “dermopanniculosis deformans”, “status protrusus cutis” and “gynoid lipodystrophy”.
Etymologically speaking, cellulite is defined as a localized metabolic disorder of the subcutaneous tissue, which provokes an alteration in body composition. In light of these definitions, cellulite only affects those with excess body fat. Indeed, being overweight highlights cellulite, but is also identified in those who are not deemed overweight.
In fact, between 85% and 98% of post-pubertal females display some degree of cellulite. This high percentage is probably due to the fact that cellulite is a multifactorial condition. There are in fact many predisposing factors such as, diet and exercise habits, hormonal and genetic factors, the predisposition to some diseases and iatrogenic causes.
Exercise and diet
Therefore, the only way to reduce cellulite seems to be a multidisciplinary approach based on changing bad habits like smoking, having a sedentary lifestyle and following a healthy diet. As a matter of fact, no treatment performed alone seems to have a strong efficacy, but having a well-balanced diet that contains a lot of vegetables and fruit, can reduce inflammatory markers, and help reach or maintain a healthy body weight in order to reduce the appearance of dimples. Furthermore, since cellulite is a circulatory problem, and because smoking cigarettes has been proved to reduce blood vessel flow, to stop smoking has a determinant role in reducing cellulite.
Another fundamental aspect is the practice of regular physical activity. In fact, physical activity can increase blood flow and the number of mitochondria, maintain the connective and muscle tissues elastic, and burn fat mass. However, running or other forms of aerobic exercise can help to keep weight off, but this type of physical activity does not increase free fat mass size, whereas resistance training does. The increase in muscle mass combined with the decrease in fat mass reduces the appearance of dimples in comparison to the reduction of fat mass only. Moreover, if you have to choose between different types of aerobic activity, aquatic exercises suggested to be the most effective, this is due to the massage affect provided by the water which stimulates a greater blood flow.
In conclusion, aerobic exercise such as running can help you to get rid of cellulite; however it is advised to associate this kind of workout with a personalized resistance training and a wellness lifestyle.
- Rossi AB, Vergnanini AL. Cellulite: a review. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2000 Jul;14(4):251-62. Review. PubMed PMID: 11204512.
- Avram MM. Cellulite: a review of its physiology and treatment. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2004 Dec;6(4):181-5. Review. PubMed PMID: 16020201.
- Journal of the European academy of dermatology and venereology.
- Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy.