Although the benefits of exercise are well-documented in millions of studies, one workout has a really negative downside.
Dr. Gerald Imber, a New York-based plastic surgeon who frequently shares anti-aging tips and advice on TikTok, addressed the issue in a recent video. He said that running long distances can lead to a skinny and old face.
Imber opened his video by discussing things that prevent aging, versus what can accelerate aging. The plastic surgeon revealed he has complaints about running and asked viewers if they had ever seen a long-distance runner who didn’t have an old, gaunt face.
Imber said that frequently, running long distances leads to an old and thin face, the knees hurt, and the ankles and back wear out. He admits that this issue is a point of contention among his patients.
While Imber advises against running long distances, he noted that it’s fine to run a little bit every day or run a few miles several times a week. Imber says there are better exercises for the body and for preventing premature aging. He favors aerobics as the best way to exercise.
Oxidative stress and sun exposure
The idea that running is associated with premature aging, or “runner’s face” isn’t new. Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York, said on HuffPost that studies published in medical journals found that intense exercise such as running can increase the production of free radicals or oxidative stress.
Nazarian said that when there’s any kind of free radical damage or oxidative stress on the skin, it causes the signs that we attribute to looking older, such as the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which can lead to drooping. She added that it’s a kind of scientifically proven theory about how this can lead to “runner’s face.”
In addition to oxidative stress, running outdoors has also been linked to increased sun exposure, which leads to premature aging as ultraviolet radiation causes damage to DNA, and loss of volume in the face.