Summer is approaching, and as waists have been getting larger, clothes will be getting tighter and smaller, guaranteeing an appearance of cellulite. There is a lot of misinformation on cellulite, especially when it comes to miracle creams. Even fit individuals can have some cellulite. In fact, approximately 90 percent of women have some cellulite. However, that does not mean it’s impossible to reduce or rid yourself of cellulite.
Cellulite refers to subcutaneous fat that is organized in chambers surrounded by fibers covered by fascia or connective tissue. When fat increases, the fascia does not stretch, which causes the dimpled appearance known as cellulite. Typically, cellulite manifests itself around the thighs and buttocks. There are numerous factors that contribute to cellulite including:
• Genetics - Some people are predisposed to have more fat cells, weak veins, fragile lymphatic vessels, poor circulation or hormonal sensitivity.
• Age - As we age, our skin gets thinner and cellulite becomes more visible.
• Poor circulation - Blood circulation, venous flow and lymphatic drainage to the subcutaneous fat are poor, causing the appearance of cellulite to be worse.
• Hormones - Estrogen causes fat to develop around the thighs and buttocks. Since men have very little estrogen, they are less likely to develop cellulite.
• Sedentary lifestyles - Lack of exercise leads to increases in body fat, which makes the appearance of cellulite worse.
There are no miracle pills or methods to reduce cellulite except diet and exercise. The University of Copenhagen found that weight-bearing exercise increased lipolysis (fat burning) in subcutaneous fat tissue around the specific muscles exercised, which sounds a lot like spot reducing. When this study was first published, I was highly skeptical. In the field of exercise physiology, spot reducing is considered a myth. This study states that spot reducing is possible. The catch is, the more intense or explosive the movement, the more fat stores are pulled from the existing area to be used as energy. This makes sense, because with explosive movement, your body needs to be as efficient as possible so if it needs fat as fuel from doing a sprint, it will use the closest available source. Since sprinting is glute and hamstring dominant, it makes sense to pull from there instead of from “all over” like previously thought. The study makes even more sense when you look at female track athletes, specifically sprinters. How many women who run 400-meter sprints have cellulite? What does this mean for the average person? Since not everyone can sprint, more women need to incorporate explosive movements like jump squats, kettlebell swings and interval training into their workouts.
It should go without saying that someone can exercise all they want to reduce cellulite, but if their diet regularly consists of pizza, ice cream, chips and other junk foods, they’re fighting an uphill battle. Still, for those of you wanting to get ready for summer and lose the cellulite, incorporating more explosive movements along with eating a healthy balanced diet will have you well on your way.
Chad Hodson is the fitness manager at the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.