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What’s up with Runner’s Face, and how can you steer clear of it?

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Runner’s Face

Running is a widely popular form of cardiovascular exercise. However, it may have unforeseen effects on certain aspects of your Health, such as your skin.

The activity provides various health advantages for the brain, heart, and overall physical well-being. Running can enhance cardiovascular Health, fortify bones and joints, facilitate weight management, and alleviate stress and anxiety.12

As per the statement of Gerald Imber, MD, a plastic surgeon certified by the board and located in New York, this particular type of motion can also affect your physical appearance.

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In a viral TikTok video with over 3.3 million views, the speaker advised that although running in moderation, such as a daily jog or a few miles a week, is acceptable, it should be acknowledged that running can have negative impacts on the body, including hastening the aging process and influencing facial appearance.

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Is it common for long-distance runners to exhibit a worn and aged facial appearance? Dr. Imber explained the occurrence. Furthermore, apart from the emaciated facial appearance, the joints in your knees, ankles, and back may also deteriorate.

The term used to describe the phenomenon he refers to is commonly known as “runner’s face.” Although not all long-distance runners will experience a runner’s face, it is important to be knowledgeable about the condition and take measures to reduce its occurrence.

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Runner's Face

What Is Runner’s Face?

According to Richard Westreich, MD, a facial plastic surgeon with double-board certification in the cosmetic, reconstructive, eyelid, and nasal surgery based in New York, the phrase “Runner’s face” refers to the specific skin alterations that some long-distance and outdoor runners may develop over some time. This was reported to Health.

A runner’s face is characterized by certain features such as thick, leathery, sagging, and wrinkled skin. Additionally, individuals with a runner’s face may exhibit sunken eyes and an overall gaunt appearance, giving the impression of tiredness.

  • “Runner’s face” refers to the facial changes that may occur in some runners over time. These changes can include the development of leathery, sagging, and aged-looking skin and a lean and tired appearance.
  • The aforementioned aesthetic issue could be more prevalent among long-distance runners due to amplified weight reduction and the impact of solar radiation.
  • To reduce the occurrence of a runner’s face, it is advised by professionals to prioritize hydration, utilize sunscreen, and adopt healthy lifestyle and skincare practices.

What exactly causes a runner’s face during running?

Although “runner’s face” is commonly associated with runners, a board-certified dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Susan Messick, MD, told Health that there is no evidence to support the claim that running or bouncing up and down causes the skin to sag or appear aged.

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She went on to say that the idea that running causes skin sagging is “an urban myth” and that the act of running does not, in and of itself, alter the skin’s texture or elasticity.

Weight loss or a low BMI, as well as solar damage from chronic exposure to the sun, are more likely to blame for changes in the facial shape or skin texture, as noted by Dr. Massick.

Weight loss and reduced body fat can be achieved through long-distance running and other forms of exercise; however, this is occasionally accompanied by a loss of facial fullness and structure.

When you run outside, especially for long distances, you put your face at risk from the sun’s UV rays. Running in the sun without protection can cause premature aging, skin discoloration, sun spots, sagging, and thicker skin.

“When you lose volume, you have extra, loose skin to give a sagging appearance,” Dr. Massick said. “Prolonged sun exposure can cause the skin to become dry, leathery, and less vibrant, making you look older than you are.”

Can I Reduce or Prevent Runner’s Face?

Dr. Westreich provided several recommendations for individuals who enjoy running and wish to minimize the effects of runners’ faces.

The individual suggested that it is advisable to moisturize, apply sunblock, and hydrate oneself after completing a running session. These products or treatments can aid in the maintenance of skin tightening.

The following are additional measures that can be taken to reduce the occurrence of runner’s face:

  • Wear sunscreen daily: To safeguard your skin from detrimental ultraviolet light exposure while running outdoors, it is recommended to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 or higher. It is recommended to use sweat and water-resistant sunscreen and reapply it every two hours.
  • Avoid running in the sun: It is recommended to schedule running sessions during times of lower solar intensity, such as early morning or evening hours. Refraining from engaging in physical activity, such as running, during peak intense sun exposure, typically between 10 AM and 3 PM, is recommended. Running on a route or path covered with trees or buildings is recommended if the former is unattainable.
  • Apply moisturizer every day: To maintain skin hydration and elasticity, it is recommended to apply a moisturizer twice daily, once in the morning and once at night.
  • Wear proper sun protection: Besides applying sunscreen, it is recommended to utilize wide-brim hats, sunglasses, and other sun-protective clothing while engaging in running activities. The product will safeguard the face, ears, neck, and skin from ultraviolet radiation.
  • Avoid smoking: The act of smoking has the potential to cause harm to the skin and accelerate the aging process.
  • Have a healthy diet: Consuming a nutritious diet with antioxidants and abundant nutrients such as leafy greens, beets, broccoli, and berries can promote skin health and enhance cellular regeneration.
  • Stay well hydrated: Consuming ample water, particularly following physical activity, is recommended to sustain proper skin hydration and preserve its moisture and flexibility.

Messick emphasized the importance of exercising in moderation, protecting the skin from environmental factors, and maintaining a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. The following are essential factors for preserving skin health and enhancing your running regimen.

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