Can Exercise Help Get Rid of Cellulite?

Medically Reviewed on 1/25/2022
Exercise paired with a healthy diet is a great way to get healthier, reduce your cellulite, and reduce your overall risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Exercise paired with a healthy diet is a great way to get healthier, reduce your cellulite, and reduce your overall risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Cellulite is a common occurrence in women and some men. Though it’s prevalent in many people, you may wish to get rid of it. One of the best ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite is weight loss. Exercise paired with a healthy diet is a great way to get healthier, reduce your cellulite, and reduce your overall risk for cardiovascular diseases.

What is cellulite?

Many of us know what cellulite looks like, but there are also many misconceptions about it. In simple terms, cellulite is just fat. However, the defining characteristics are a dimpled, cottage-cheese, or orange-peel appearance. 

Cellulite happens when connective tissue separates fat cells into compartments. Women’s compartments are honeycombed shaped, whereas men have horizontal and crisscrossed patterns. This is why more women develop cellulite than men. 

You’ll notice cellulite forming more in your hips and thighs than anywhere else. Cellulite can

also become more noticeable with age because your skin gets thinner over time. 

How hard is it to get rid of cellulite?

Another misconception about cellulite is that it’s directly caused by overeating or lack of exercise. However, normal fat and cellulite react differently to diet and exercise. Cellulite is fat that gets trapped in your dermal layer of skin. 

That means your body can’t always use it as fuel when exercising, causing it to stay. Though there’s no way to make cellulite vanish completely, there are different options to treat it. Some options can reduce the appearance of cellulite, but only temporarily. Results can last weeks, days, or just hours, depending on the type of treatment. 

Can cellulite go away with exercise?

There are a lot of factors that determine if you’ll get cellulite and how difficult it’ll be to get rid of it. Genetics plays a significant role in how many fat cells you have and where they’re placed. Activity level is another crucial factor. Higher activity levels can keep cellulite away longer or reduce its appearance. 

Exercising can increase your muscle mass, making your skin smoother and firmer. When you replace fat with muscle by exercising more, you can make cellulite less noticeable as well. 

Maintaining a healthy weight and a rigorous exercise routine can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training is good to engage in multiple times per week.


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Types of exercises to target cellulite

Daily cardio, two to three strength-training sessions weekly, and a healthy diet are great ways to reduce cellulite appearance and have many other health benefits as well. 

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise and strength training can help you lose more pounds of fat while adding additional pounds of muscle, which improves your bodily composition.

Endurance training. This type of exercise involves running, cycling, swimming, and more. This type of treatment for cellulite has been grouped with other noninvasive measures like calorie restriction, massages, and topical creams. 

Resistance training. Using bodyweight for regular resistance training can improve cellulite appearance for women between 18 and 65 years old. Targeting your glutes and thighs with at least two exercises with 15 repetitions per leg twice a day for 12 weeks has shown results.

Other types of cellulite treatments

While getting rid of cellulite is difficult, it can sometimes be done with exercise, though if you do not see the results you want with exercise and diet, you can try other types of cellulite treatments. 

Topical agents. Using topical creams combined with a deep massage is one of the first treatments for cellulite. The topical creams have caffeine and other compounds that target specific areas. 

Radiofrequency. Dermatologists can use devices that use thermal energy via electrodes to smooth out your skin. Some radiofrequency devices use infrared light, vacuum suction, and pulsed-electromagnetic fields.

Laser devices. Other treatments involve laser and lights depending on the wavelength and energy they’re emitting. The machines heat your tissue, stimulate collagen remodeling, and improve microcirculation. This helps improve the appearance of cellulite.

Subcision. A minimally invasive method of treatment is manual subcision. For this procedure, your target areas are numbed with a topical anesthetic. Then, a needle is inserted under your skin to release the cords of cellulite. Side effects of this treatment include: 

Injectable treatments. These are other minimally invasive treatments, including active biologic agents and dermal fillers. These plump up your skin and give you a smoother look and feel.  

If you have problems with cellulite appearance on your skin, you can talk to your doctor about the right plan of action, including starting with exercising and a healthy diet or taking further measures. 

Medically Reviewed on 1/25/2022


ACE: “Exercise and Cellulite.”

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGEONS: “What is the best treatment for cellulite?”

International Journal of Medical Reviews: “Exercise-Based Approaches to the Treatment of Cellulite.”

International Journal of Women’s Dermatology: “Treatment for cellulite.”

Piedmont: “Cellulite 101.”

TeensHealth: “Cellulite.”