Physical activity alone is not enough to tone up sagging underarm skin. It’s also paramount to follow a healthy diet and a wholesome lifestyle.
Over the age of 40, many women are plagued with an annoying blemish: sagging arms. The skin between the elbow and the armpit, covering the triceps muscle, loses its elasticity and tone, thus complying with gravity and inevitably collapsing downwards. This condition goes by many nicknames: “bat wings”, “flag arms”, “curtain arms”. But perhaps the most effective term comes from the United States: “bingo wings”. The idea of a Florida pensioner enthusiastically shaking her bingo card, causing her underarm to ripple and flap is pretty evocative.
It is therefore not surprising that limp arms are considered the main aesthetic concern for ten percent of American women, as emerged from a recent survey conducted by Women’s Health magazine. Such high a percentage makes us understand bingo wings are perceived as an unsolvable problem, if you don’t want to resort to invasive and expensive surgery.
The causes of wobbly arms.
Excess underarm skin is the consequence of two types of factors: internal factors such as genetics and aging, and external ones such as photoaging and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Cutaneous aging. This is the first cause of progressive tone loss in the arms, and it commences at around 25 years of age. Dermal fibroblasts experience a decrease in collagen and elastin production, and the effects on cutaneous tonicity and elasticity are more evident in the area of the triceps muscle, since the skin there is very thin. Over the years the effect is accentuated by a decrease in volume of the muscles and bones.
Sudden weight loss and weight gain. The skin is an actual organ, and although it is incredibly elastic, it still has its limitations. If it is subjected to excessive stress, it can be damaged (as is the case of stretch marks) and lose its elasticity. In the event of a sudden weight loss, the subcutaneous and adipose tissues empty out, leading to excess skin bunching up on the surface. If this occurs in the tricep area, it results in bingo wings, which are nothing more than skin redundancy. Weight gain, on the other hand, has the opposite, but equally aesthetically unpleasant effect: fat accumulates in the thin-skinned tricep area exerts a strong downward pressure, simple following the force of gravity.
A sedentary lifestyle. A lack of physical activity causes a loss of muscle tone and volume, which in turn leads to excess skin on the surface.
A diet low in protein and omega 3 fats. In the absence of these macronutrients, muscle mass can be significantly compromised.
Vitamin C and E deficiencies. They substances are fundamental for our skin’s health – Vitamin C in particular is an important antioxidant which is involved in collagen synthesis.
Poor hydration. Without adequate hydration, the skin loses its elasticity.
The 4 riders of the cutaneous apocalypse: alcohol, smoke, smog and UV rays. These four factors wreak havoc on our skin and our health overall. Large quantities of alcohol fatten and dehydrate the skin. Smoke, smog and UV rays also increase the amount of free radicals in our bodies, subjecting it to increased oxidative stress.
How to tone your arms: exercise is important, but it isn’t everything.
Maintaining a good muscle tone is essential to avoid skin flaccidity. Some arm exercises to train your triceps can be performed at home in a comfortable and safe way (add to these other exercises focusing on your biceps and forearms, for proportionately toned arms). Running is also one of the recommended activities for slimming your arms because of the swinging movement of the upper limbs; likewise for swimming, in particular crawl and backstroke. Find out more here.
Toned and slender arms: the importance of proper nutrition.
Exercise must be coupled with a diet including all the macronutrients in the proper proportions and quantities. Toned arms especially require omega 3 proteins and fats: the latter are mainly found in salmon and sardines, but also in dried fruit (walnuts, almonds and pine nuts), seeds (flax, sesame, chia), spinach, cauliflower and eggs, for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. In order to preserve your skin’s youth and elasticity, choose foods that contain vitamins and antioxidants, and the choice will inevitably fall on fruit and vegetables.
Don’t overlook hydration: avoid drinking too much alcohol, which is dehydrating, and drink at least a liter and a half of water a day. It might also be appropriate to resort to so-called “direct hydration”, which consists in the application of cosmetic products and moisturizing oils in the parts of the body that need it most.
A word of warning against extreme diets. As we said at the beginning of the article, drastic weight loss is a major cause of arm laxity. Furthermore, these restrictive dies usually cannot be maintained for very long periods, so you risk gaining back all the lost kilos and more. And being overweight will only weigh down the triceps, making them hang in an even more obstinate way.