Running Wrinkles

Running Wrinkles, Running from wrinkles. Sitting around the coffee shop enjoying a post-long run recovery double-dose of caffeine a couple of Sundays back, the talk got around to somebody's new GPS device — and how it was so much better than the one it replaced.

"The satellite signal hardly cuts out at all when you're in the trees," Judy — the gizmo's owner said. "I think it's more accurate."

There was just one tiny issue, though. The old GPS clocked our usual down-and-back trail route at 22 K — the same distance as those old-style printed maps suggested. The new unit begged to differ. Just under 21, it claimed.

"Hmm," I said. "and does it say you look 30, too?"

Now 30 may be a bit of a memory for a lot us who invest a fair bit of time trying to distance ourselves from this mortality thing, I thought, while dodging a flying cup of hot joe. But it might not be that obvious if you looked at some of us - or anyone who exercises regularly. The signs of aging — while not absent — may be somewhat subdued.

Even so, every so often somebody will tell me they're still looking for an exercise routine that they can enjoy. "But not running, because that'll give me wrinkles and looking old before my time."

Well, it's not running — or any other form of exercise — that'll etch lines in your face. If anything, getting fit may help hold off the inevitable process of wrinkling as your skin conforms to a leaner, more muscular body.

However, yo-yo dieting may also wreak havoc with your skin as alternating between losing and gaining a lot of weight shrinks and then stretches your skin.

There are four major causes of wrinkles: age, exposure to ultraviolet light, smoking and repeated facial expressions.

The last three you can control by not basking unprotected in the sun, not smoking and not continually making the face that your mother warned you not to make when you were a kid.

There's still no cure for aging and its tendency to make your skin thinner, less elastic and more fragile. Your body produces fewer natural oils which will leave your skin drier and more wrinkled.

Sure, there are some things you can do to help lessen the effects of wrinkling. Aging boomers have spent billions on skin creams and botox injections in an attempt to turn back the clock.

But if you want to do it naturally, getting fitter is better, as long as you take the proper precautions for your skin before you head out for an hour-long bike ride or run on a sunny day.

Take a look at Paula Radcliffe, the world's fastest female marathoner. She's been running upwards of 160 kilometres a week training for the women's marathon in Beijing — eight months after giving birth to a daughter. Yes, she's got that typical rail-thin runner's body. But good luck finding a wrinkle on her.