Especially as we advance in years (but certainly not exclusive to more mature people), we begin to notice the appearance of more cellulite. If we’re not exercising and eating smart, we have a tendency to feel more fatigued than we used to. In addition to the obvious remedy of a proper diet full of nutrition, stretching exercises, resistance training, and aerobic activity can help reduce cellulite and raise energy levels.
Resistance and Aerobic Exercise
First, be sure to download our free guide on how to get rid of cellulite here. In addition to this guide, check out the following exercise methods for reducing cellulite.
One scientific study proved the benefit of somewhat vigorous exercise for cellulite reduction. The study was conducted with 119 sedentary, overweight people randomized to one of three eight-month exercise protocols:
1) resistance training (training with weight),
2) aerobic training, and
3) a combination of aerobic and resistance training.
The results showed that aerobic training is the optimal mode of exercise for reducing fat mass while a program including weight/resistance training is needed for increasing lean mass in middle-aged, overweight or obese individuals.
Since cardio exercise like walking, running, hiking or bicycling burns calories, it can reduce your overall body fat which makes cellulite harder to notice. (For a complete understanding of cellulite, be sure to read our blog on the topic, Cellulite: What It is and How to Minimize It, here.)
Interval training, also called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is currently prescribed as the best exercise program for cellulite reduction and prevention.
During bursts of high intensity activity in HIIT you burn calories much faster than you would with a slow intensity work.
“The fact is, there's no workout in the world that magically makes cellulite take a permanent hike (sorry—don't shoot the messenger!). Cellulite is fat that pushes against the connective tissue just beneath the skin, usually on your butt and upper thighs, which makes these areas appear bumpy and puckered. How much you have depends a lot on genetics. But generally speaking, the less fat you have, the less pushing and puckering there is—and the less visible your cellulite will be,” says Garson Grant, a master trainer at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
Grant says the goal should be to make cellulite much less obvious with workouts that burn lots of calories in order to reduce body fat. With HIIT, you do short bursts of intense activity and then dial it down during a several minute rest period. Then you ramp up the activity again and perform this over a number of cycles.
You want to use the amount of weight that is just heavy enough for you to perform as many repetitions as possible before your muscles temporarily tire and you feel like you need to take a break.
"Interval training keeps your metabolism high while you're working out and then afterward, too, so you burn fat even at rest," says Grant.
Certainly, exercise isn't a foolproof way to eliminate cellulite, but resistance training creates stronger muscles and tighter skin thereby reducing the appearance of cellulite. Resistance training also provides a whole host of mental and health benefits in addition to amping up your energy levels.
Resistance/weight training doesn’t always mean you have to work out with machines, barbells, and dumbbells in a gym or even at home.
Your body itself is a mass of weight which you can use to offer a resistance workout to your muscles. It gives you the flexibility to workout anywhere and it removes any barriers to a dedicated exercise program such as cost or lack of time.
Says Peter Paulson, author of Your Body Is Your Gym: Use Your Bodyweight to Build Muscle and Lose Fat with the Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Training:
“Bodyweight routines are highly metabolic in nature and also engage your core in almost every exercise… while shredding fat from your belly.”
The mere act of aging causes our muscles to tighten and our range of motion to diminish. Many people often view this as a deterrent to even getting started with resistance training or any kind of exercise, for that matter. Beginning with a basic aerobic exercise like walking or swimming combined with simple stretches can be an excellent entrée to building a complete exercise program for yourself.
Most of us rarely consider the benefits of daily simple stretching.
Simple stretching exercises increase blood flow, flush toxins, elevate metabolism, stave off and reduce cellulite and produce well-being creating endorphins.
Stretching helps increase energy and stamina by supporting better blood circulation and thus oxygen throughout the body. The cells of the body become better nourished to grow and function. The body’s organs function better, too. This improved blood circulation also reduces strain on the heart paving the way for increased energy levels.
Most stretching exercises are actually yoga poses. Yoga is known and proven to enhance lymph circulation. Lymph is a colorless fluid containing white blood cells which bathe the tissues and drain through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. Accumulated non-circulating lymph is a fatigue-producing substance.
Yoga postures stretch and strengthen the body’s major muscle groups with an economy of movement that prevents fatigue.
Another form of less aggressive exercise is pilates. Pilates, like yoga, also involves proper breathing, the strengthening of the core muscles, and posture correction, all of which enhance the level of oxygenation throughout the body and thus, combats fatigue with energy.
In yoga stretches, you do more than oxygenate the body, you encourage unseen vital energy to expand throughout the body which gives you more radiant levels of vitality.
Moreover, and this is a great perk, yoga and stretching have been found to help reduce cellulite.
“I have less cellulite when I do yoga… If I stop my yoga, the back of my thighs start to get a little cellulitish again… My cellulite almost disappears when I practice yoga daily.” Leonora Scelfo in Yoga Fan Girl
Tara Stiles advises in Yoga Cures: Simple Routines to Conquer More Than 50 Common Ailments and Live Pain-Free says this about cellulite:
“The yoga cure for cellulite is getting your body moving regularly. We’ll get the circulation going, move through poses that target the hips, thighs, and butt, and in the process help reduce excess body fat. It’s important to practice regularly to gain the most benefit.”
She goes on to say that practicing Sun Salutations daily are a good start to that end. Sun Salutations are a series of yoga poses or stretches performed in a continuous flowing sequence and intended to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles as well as fluid flow which includes the flow of lymph, blood, and water.
Choosing the exercise program that resonates with you while ensuring that stretches are a part of that program will not only help reduce unwanted cellulite but elevate your vitality and energy. If you’re just beginning, simply ease into it, building a little at a time, so that you will enjoy your program of exercise and practice it lifelong.
“Your health and fitness is arguably the most important aspect of your life. By living a healthy life you are basically wearing a Kevlar vest towards the majority of life’s bullets.” — Peter Paulson
Willis, Leslie H et al. “Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults.” Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985) vol. 113,12 (2012): 1831-7. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011
Crain, Esther. “Q&A: What's the Best Workout to Blast Cellulite?” Women's Health, Women's Health, 11 June 2019, https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19909211/cellulite-workout/.
Anderson, Kristin. “Stretch to Get Rid of Cellulite. Modern Mom, modernmom.com, 21 October 2010, https://www.modernmom.com/336408c8-3b45-11e3-8407-bc764e04a41e.html
Scelfo, Leonora. Yoga Fan Girl. United States, Dog Ear Publishing, LLC, 2015.
Weller, Stella. Healing Yoga: A Practical Approach to Healing Common Ailments with Yoga. United Kingdom, Pavilion Books, 2007.
Paulson, Peter. Your Body Is Your Gym: Use Your Bodyweight to Build Muscle and Lose Fat with the Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Training. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, United States, June 2014.