The very word ‘cellulite’ is enough to strike horror into the hearts of women these days. The bumpy ‘cottage cheese’ or ‘orange peel’ appearance of the skin, usually on thighs, buttocks and upper arms, is the bane of many a woman’s mirror-gazing, but it’s not life-threatening; it’s just unsightly, and especially depressing when trying on bikinis.
In fact, close to 90% of women experience the problem to some extent, far more so than men. Men tend to store fat in the belly area, but women have a different structure when it comes to fat storage, which is exactly what cellulite is all about.
Cellulite is stored fat, and the reason for the ‘bumpy’ appearance is that the fibrous cords connecting skin to underlying muscle, with subcutaneous fat in between, pull down against the skin while accumulating fat pushes up; thus the bumpy look.
The causes of cellulite are not clearly defined, but heredity is a factor, and so is simply aging, as the skin loses some of its elasticity. Other possible causes are stress, lack of exercise and improper diet, amongst others.
Certainly being overweight contributes, though even lean bodies can also exhibit cellulite. Getting rid of it is a major industry, but though many have claimed it, so far nobody has come up with the miracle cure.
Your best defense against cellulite is a high-fibre, low-fat diet supplemented with plenty of water and consistent exercise. Since thighs and buttocks are the worst offenders in women, try walking or cycling, preferably in hilly terrain.
Squats and lunges are also good for firming those areas, and dancing is even better, (and generally more fun.) Basically, any exercise that increases heart rate and circulation will help to break down fat cells and also make you feel better all around.
According to the Mayo Clinic, to date the most promising weapon against cellulite is the introduction of laser-assisted liposuction, but that’s not an alternative for everyone.
There is a plethora of creams and lotions on the market that advertise their effectiveness, but none has been scientifically proven to provide any long-term reduction of cellulite. There may be some benefit in massage, which also improves circulation and thus helps to reduce subcutaneous fat.