Once you start working out, there’s no better feeling - especially if you get into running. After you get into a regular workout rhythm, you’ll start losing weight, and you’ll feel better in general as well. In fact, you may even find some zen mindfulness as you run with your favorite music or podcast filling your ears. Yes - it does seem like there are no actual downsides to running as a routine. But that’s when you’ll hear about the infamous runner’s face. So, is this real? What is it, and how can you prevent it? We’ll talk about all of that right here.
What Is Runner’s Face
Basically, we all know that running is a great way to lose weight. Apart from a fasting routine, there’s nothing that’s more guaranteed to lead you to be thinner. But it’s often said that the particular kind of fat loss that you get from running can make your face seem wrinkled and skeletal. Before you think you’ve found another reason to hate yourself, hold your horses - it’s not nearly as dark as this.
Take a look at any online forum dedicated to running, and you’re bound to find a topic on whether running will ruin your face. So, is this actually true? Will you get premature wrinkling from running? And might your face become too gaunt and thin? In most cases, articles that talk about runner’s face and its dangers will tend to push you towards buying some sort of anti-aging cream; so it’s not easy knowing whether what they’re saying is true at all. Don’t worry, though - we’re here to pull facts apart from fiction.
Think about it for a second - if so many publications, forums, and blogs talk about runner’s face - could there be truth to it? Sure, some of them may exist because of snake oil they offer as treatments, but that doesn’t mean the ailment itself is not real.
One of the most oft-repeated theories regarding the runner’s face is that the bouncing that happens in a runner’s stride is what causes their skin to sag; most notably on their face. But in reality, this is nothing more than aging. Truly professional and informed runners will tell you that, just like any other adult, their skin tends to sag once they start aging. Plus, once you stop eating some foods that have a high-fat content, you will definitely lose some of the fullness in your face as well.
And there’s another simple reason why people notice more wrinkles on runners - on average, they’re older. That’s right; unlike most other types of recreational sports, running is an activity whose lowest participant percentages are made up of the 16 to 25 age group. Thus, you’ll see more people who jog and run looking older simply because they are.
On the other hand, while the sagging most runners experience is due to aging - sun damage is actually a real issue and a part of what people perceive as “runner’s face.” Obviously, running is an activity that’s rarely anything other than the outdoors variety, cardio on treadmills notwithstanding.
When it comes to aging in general, research shows that about 80 percent of all the aging signs, including sagging, wrinkles, and lines, happens due to sun damage. And seeing as most people who run do so outside, and in very frequent intervals, that’s the biggest culprit.
So, the myth of “bouncing” causing the sagging skin is utterly ridiculous; if there’s any wrinkling that does happen to runners more than to regular people, the sun is to blame. Sure, some runners are aware of this, and they use sun lotion. But on the other hand, everyone’s sweaty after a long run - and sweat can easily degrade the effectiveness of any kind of sun lotion. At the end of the day, you’re exposed to the elements - and that’s just the way it is.
Though, using lotion is definitely a good precaution if you’re running in sunny weather, it will at least lessen the adverse effects.
Apart from all other aspects of the runner’s face that we’ve talked about - it’s also worth noting that weight loss will make your face seem skinnier as well. And when we get into those waters, it’s all about subjective perception. Some people take a look at a skinny face and call it skinny, while others will deem it “skeletal.”
On the other hand, there are indicators that losing “too much” weight from your face while running may mean something entirely different. Instead of blaming the runner’s face and possibly quitting the activity, one should consider other factors at play here. Some nutritionists claim that losing a disproportionate amount of fat from your face compared to the rest of your body might mean a caloric deficit, something that happens because of the way you eat, not running per se.
Still, if you suddenly see a skeleton looking back at you after a run, you’re advised not to quit running, but consider other factors: “Anyone burning too much fat from their face may be eating incorrectly,” he says. “It’s not just a symptom of running, but of a caloric deficit. Runners who eat well should not see this as a real issue.”
All in all, if you read this and go to take a long hard look in the mirror before deciding not to run, think again. There are plenty of things that can affect how a person’s face looks like. Maybe you seem gaunt due to stress and a lack of sleep? That’s far more likely to be the culprit than a half-hour run every other day. In fact, going for a jog more often might actually help you get rid of some of that stress that’s weighing you down, even making you feel more vital and young instead of saggy and old.
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Eoin Connolly is a writer from Dublin, Ireland. When he's not researching, he enjoys walking, reading, and supporting Manchester United - difficult though that is at the moment.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.