Running your way to better skin

The secret to why running makes some glow and saps others’ youth

Running your way to better skin

In April 2010, Acting Runners, a workshop that teaches beauty through running techniques, opened near where the majority of Tokyo runners hang out – around the Imperial Palace and Hanzomon area. Offering programmes to help you improve the beauty of your skin through running, it’s a real draw for those already into the sport. Masami Motokariya, who has worked for over twenty years in the field – writing articles for running magazines, planning and developing books and being involved in event production – manages the business.

While she was researching the effects of the sport on runners, Motokariya noticed that amongst female runners there were two main groups: those whose skin became more brilliant and beautiful, and those who became bony, thin and who seemed to age. Having questions about the great gap between the two types, she enrolled in the Graduate School of Sports Sciences at Waseda University to try and solve the problem. She researched the relationships between women’s exercise habits and their skin, and was able to clarify scientifically why running can be linked to becoming more beautiful.

Perhaps most female runners feel that if they are going to go to the effort of running, they’d like it to improve their looks as well as their health. According to Motokariya it’s just a question of knowing the way to go about it. Time Out Tokyo spoke to her about the project.

What kind of research did you do?
MM: For subjects I used female runners aged between 35 and 40 who had at least a ten-year continuous history of exercise. Working with certain leading cosmetics companies we collated data about the skin condition of 52 women in total. My first theory was that people who ran at a relaxed pace and enjoyed themselves could become more beautiful, but I was completely wrong. The result of the research was that the women who were able to exercise with a certain level of exertion were clearly the ones with the nicest, youngest looking skin.

What most women here worry about, in terms the condition of their skin, is the increase of wrinkles and blotches. Because they are caused by ultraviolet rays, all you need to do is stay out of the sun and you’ll be ok. The next thing that women worry about is how youthful and well-toned their skin is. If lustre and firmness is lost, the skin loses its tautness and will start to sag. One of the reasons for this is the slowing down of the metabolism. This means that if you are able to stop this decline, it can have the effect of a natural facelift. If your body is declining within, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on expensive cosmetics, your skin won’t be replenished. It’s really important to stimulate the body, but basic exercises like walking, which are used to maintain health, aren’t enough. Ultimately, you need to overcome the forces of gravity; you have to put an appropriate load on your body.

That ‘appropriate load’ is really important, isn’t it? In more specific terms, what is the best way to run then?
MM: After they have been running for a long time, a lot of people don’t realize when it has become like an obligation or when their bodies have become overworked. Understanding your boundaries is really important. In the future, for women to be able to improve their looks through running, I think we will need a precise numerical indicator of where that line is drawn. Exercising can be fun, but for those who keep doing it without thought, it can have a very negative result on the aesthetic side of things. For those who have taken up running, but haven’t experienced any positive results, there are three points that should be taken care of.

Firstly, you need to take proper care of UV rays and use sun-block. Always reapply it every two hours. That means for those of you running a full marathon over a six hour period, you have to put it on three times, so you should carry a hand mirror with you. The next point is to make sure you rid your body of any unbalanced elements in its make-up. You need to make sure the balance of body fat, muscle and water in your body is correct. The proportions of fat and muscle in particular will have an effect on the health of your skin. For example, in the case of women, if you have less than 20 percent body fat, your skin is more likely to become slack. In fact, 21 percent body fat is the best proportion for maintaining a beautiful figure, and it will also improve your metabolism. To be more specific, it’s important to maintain your own ‘beauty pace’ when you are running. The ‘beauty pace’ is the speed where you start to feel it’s getting a little hard. At Acting Runners, we measure pace through heart rates. But depending on the body and mind of each person, a slightly hard pace might be too easy. So it’s important not to measure the pace by how you feel, but with a proper numerical system. If you measure your maximum heart rate - at the point where you have pushed yourself to the limits running, and can’t go on anymore - and then take off 70 to 80, that is the level of your beauty pace.

How many times a week should we run at our beauty pace?
MM: It’s best to run about three times a week, for about 30 minutes – about one circuit of the Imperial Palace is good.

So only once week wouldn’t be enough then?
MM: If you only run once a week, your body will go back to how it was before you exercised, so I think each time you run it’ll be harder for you. If you run every other day, you will see a definite improvement in your body. When the human body is tired it releases active oxygen. If you exercise, the body will sustain some damage for a short period, and again active oxygen will be released. If you only exercise once, all you are doing is sustaining damage, so continual exercise is crucial: you need to practice overcoming active oxygen. If you do too much, too much active oxygen will be released, so you must take care to maintain a slightly demanding beauty pace.

Currently Acting Runners is offering a trial consultation for ¥5,000. Find your beauty pace – not too easy, not too tough – and start running your way to more beautiful skin.

Acting Runners (Full details & map)

By Akiko Toya
Translated by Virginia Okno
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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