Exercise

7 ways to strengthen and tone your legs

Looking to shape up your pins? Exercising our legs is a sure-fire way to build strength and enhance mobility, all while improving our balance and providing support to the rest of the body. Here we reveal seven ways to strengthen and tone your legs.

Exercises to strengthen and tone your legs

Walking

It sounds simple, but walking is actually a fantastic way to shape up our legs. Best of all – it’s free!

All of the muscles in our leg work together as we walk, helping to provide stability and support. With each step we take, we’re engaging our calf, thigh and bottom muscles. As a result, we’re helping to strengthen and tone the muscles of the leg.

Add more walking into your day – get off a bus stop early, take your phone meeting to the park, or swap coffee and cake with a friend for an afternoon stroll. Try to incorporate hills on your walk too as this will elevate the strengthening effects.

Squats

An oldie, but a goodie – squats are super useful for toning legs. They primarily work the muscles of the thigh, calf and bottom.

A basic squat is a good place to get started. You can start with a few reps (5-10) and then gradually build up over time. As you become stronger, you may want to consider adding weight. You can hold hand weights or wear a weighted jacket. Always ensure to listen to your body and go at your own pace.

Plus, you can hold onto the back of a chair if you feel you need additional support with your balance.

Warrior II

This traditional yoga pose is excellent for strengthening and toning the muscles of the legs. Plus, it helps to gently stretch the muscles of the hips, improving mobility in our lower body.

When practising this pose, hold for a few breaths, focussing on grounding down into your feet to activate the muscles of the legs.

Skipping

Skipping with a rope is a simple exercise to help tone your legs. Plus, you only need one inexpensive piece of equipment to get started.

Skipping helps to tone your calf muscles, while also working to improve the strength of the tendons and ligaments. Not only that, as a weight-bearing exercise, it helps to build bone strength, ensuring that we stay stable as we age.

It gets the heart rate going, so take your time with building up your stamina when skipping. Over time, you’ll reap the results – research suggests that 10 minutes of skipping can be just as effective as 30 minutes of jogging for our cardiovascular system.

Lunges

Lunges – stepping one leg forwards and bending through the knees, lowering the back knee to the floor – are effective for toning and strengthening your legs.

As with squats, as you get stronger you may wish to add more reps or work with more weight.

Tree pose

Tree pose is one of the most well-known balancing yoga postures, and it’s excellent for building strength in the legs. Just a few minutes standing on one leg and you’ll soon feel the burn!

Add this pose into your yoga practice, or morning mobility routine. Aim to hold the pose for a few breaths (3-5 breaths is good to aim for), before releasing and practising on the other leg.

Dancing

Feeling uninspired to exercise? Put on your favourite songs and get moving in the living room. You’ll soon feel your body move to the beat and your mood lift.

A full-body workout, dancing helps to improve muscle tone and strength in the legs, bottom, back and tummy. Plus, throw a few shapes with your arms and you’ve easily added in an upper body workout.

Over time, you’ll improve your cardiovascular fitness, balance and mobility too.

It’s well worth looking for dance classes in your local area. Learning a new routine is excellent for improving memory, and it’s also a great opportunity to meet new friends.

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