When you first consider the question, “Does exercise age you?” the chances are that you respond with a resounding, “No! Exercise keeps our bodies healthy.” At the Kole Plastic Surgery Center, we have heard many tales that have been passed down through the generations about how exercising will make a person look older. One of our favorites is the belief that any high impact sport, such as running, will cause wrinkles and sagging because the skin and fat bounces over prolonged periods of time. While this is obviously a falsehood, believe it or not, some aspects of exercising can add years to your appearance.

The Aging Process

Everyone gets older, but not everyone ages the same. Heredity is definitely the most significant contributing factor for how you will age. But you cannot control heredity. Two factors that also cause aging are sun exposure and smoking, both of which you can control. Sun exposure ages your skin by thinning the dermis, destroying collagen and reducing the elasticity. When combined with the drying effects of wind and cold, being outdoors will certainly add years if you do not protect your skin. For various reasons, few athletes use sunscreen when they are outdoors, so they expose their skin to far more sun exposure, and therefore tend to look older than non-athletes or people who exercise indoors.

Interestingly enough, studies have shown that if you have a little more body fat when you are older, you can soften the effects of reduced skin quality. In a sense, the fat “fills in” the lines and wrinkles naturally. So if you exercise and reduce your Body Mass Index, or BMI, when you are older, this kind of body contouring could actually add more years to your appearance than if your BMI were higher. Having a lower BMI means that you probably have less fat on your face, specifically in the eye and cheek areas. Losing fat in these areas creates a hollow, sunken appearance that adds years to your appearance.

Keep Your Body and Face Looking Young

Exercise is important to stay healthy and have a young, vibrant appearance, so we encourage our patients to continue with their exercise routines. The best way to keep your face looking youthful is to wear sunscreen whenever you are outdoors. You should use a sunscreen that will not wash off while swimming or from sweating. Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 to protect against UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

Contrary to popular belief, having some amount of fat on your body is healthy. You need fat to protect your organs and provide a source of energy in some situations. Have your physician check your BMI regularly to ensure that you are maintaining a healthy level of fat on your body.

If you have lost fat volume in your face, the Kole Plastic Surgery Center offers minimally-invasive treatments that enhance your cheek area and soften lines and wrinkles. You can learn more about these treatments by scheduling a consultation at our office.