Why Do Runners Look Unhealthy? (With 4 Quick Tips to Avoid It!)

Running is a great exercise and one of the best ways to improve the strength of your cardiovascular system. Then why do so many serious runners look unhealthy?

Runners look unhealthy because they spend too much time in the sun and don’t have much body fat. Being skinny is usually – if wrongly – associated with health. Runners are often skinnier than people are used to seeing and can even be underweight. Sun exposure from frequently running outdoors without sufficient SPF can lead to early signs of aging. 

Keep reading to learn everything you need about why runners look unhealthy and how to avoid it.

Why do runners look sickly?

Despite being a great cardiovascular exercise, extreme runners often look unhealthy.

Runners may look sickly because of their lack of body fat; lean rather than bulky muscle can also contribute to the gaunt appearance. They may also have saggy skin due to the amount of time they spend outdoors.

Runners tend to have very low body fat, making them look underweight and unhealthy. Runners must ensure they’re eating enough to stay healthy because they burn many calories while running.

Runners should also eat plenty of carbs because their bodies will start running off stored fat for energy. This can contribute to their sickly appearance because they’ll look leaner and less toned than they are. Your body naturally burns carbs to create energy for itself, but when it runs out of carbs, it will burn fat instead.

What do runner bodies look like?

Extreme runners have a very distinct look.

Runners are very skinny, with lean muscles. Their arms often look underdeveloped compared to their toned legs.

If you want to bulk up instead of developing too much lean muscle, you’ll need to incorporate other things in your training regimen, like weight training. Focusing only on cardio will give you a slim or gaunt appearance.

However, most of the body effects you experience after running are positive. For example, it’s one of the best ways to lose weight because you burn so many calories quickly. If you’re struggling with weight loss and taking up running can be a great way to shed the pounds.

 If you’re already a naturally lean person, it can be easy to look unhealthy when you’re a runner. However, your naturally lean physique will give you a performance advantage while running in competitions.

Even though there are some negative aspects of running too often and how it impacts your body, the runner’s body is usually something people strive for. Runners have strong legs and a very toned core and lower body.

Do runners age faster? 

Many people think running can make you age faster because of how often you bounce during this high-impact activity.

In reality, runners often look older than other athletes because of the amount of time spent in the sun. In addition, if they don’t wear proper sun protection, they can develop wrinkles early on.

Running on its own isn’t what makes you look older, but running too often in the sun without any protection will give you saggy skin. Also, runners who aren’t careful about how hard they train can receive overuse injuries, making them feel older. Therefore, you must be mindful of overuse injuries when participating in a high-impact activity.

How to avoid looking unhealthy as a runner

Even though many people struggle with their appearance when they get serious about running,  there are plenty of ways to look healthy while participating in this activity. Running is extremely healthy and produces several benefits like weight loss, less acne, and reduced stress. 

To avoid looking unhealthy as a runner, you should:

  • Protect your skin with SPF
  • Increase your calorie intake
  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • Give yourself a break 

Keep reading to find out how each of these tips can help you look as fit and vibrant as you feel!

Protect your skin with SPF

One of the main reasons runners are known to look unhealthy is that their skin looks aged.

Many people like running outside because it can boost their mood and help them stay active no matter where they go. However, all that time spent outside can lead to skin issues and make you look older. Adding a good sunscreen to your regimen can help with that.

It would be best to add SPF to your skin regimen if you spend plenty of time running outdoors. This is the best way to protect your skin while you still reap the emotional benefits of spending time outside exercising.

You can easily add SPF to your daily regimen by purchasing a daytime moisturizer for your face; however, if you’re going for a long run, you should always use a separate SPF.

Increase your calorie intake

While being skinny is often considered “healthy,” being too skinny can cause your appearance to look right back around to “unhealthy.

While you may be initially excited to lose plenty of weight when you participate in running, if you lose too much, you can look gaunt. Increasing your calorie intake when you’re a runner is important

Whenever you participate in an active lifestyle like running, you need to change your calorie intake to accommodate your new energy needs. You can easily track your daily needs using a smartwatch paired with a calorie-counting app like MyFitnessPal. This will help ensure you’re eating enough calories for your activity level. 

Keep yourself hydrated 

Ensuring you’re properly hydrated is one of the best ways to look healthier.

Not drinking enough water is one of the main reasons people struggle with skin-related issues that make them look unhealthy. In addition, you sweat a lot when you run, so you must drink plenty of water and consume enough electrolytes to retain that water.

When you drink plenty of water, even if you’re not a runner, it improves your skin’s elasticity so that you don’t have to worry about sagging as much. Your skin will naturally lose some elasticity as you age, but you can slow down this process by drinking plenty of water. This is also a great way to avoid wrinkles if you run outside often. 

Give yourself a break

If you overexert yourself when you run, you can give yourself an overall exhausted appearance

Overtraining is a common problem many runners encounter at some point during their running career. This is a problem for professional runners and runners who don’t hit a professional level.

Ensure you take your rest days when it’s time and stop running when your body tells you to. Running consumes a lot of energy, and you need to make up for it with plenty of sleep. However, when you run often, you will discover that sleeping is easier than before you got into this exercise.