Yes, of course, you want to tone and shape your legs. Who wouldn't? The real important question to ask, however, is WHY would you like to tone and shape your legs?
To look good and feel comfortable in your favorite jeans? Well, that is a good reason. We all want to feel good in our favorite clothes, including me. But there 6 more important reasons that I, as a 58-year-old woman, exercise my legs intensely five times a week, and I’ll share them with you.
Toning your legs will help you build lean muscle and burn fat, create and maintain healthy, efficient body composition that, in turn, keeps your metabolism running efficiently. Your quads and glutes are some of the biggest muscles in your body. They can pack a powerful metabolic punch if you keep them toned.
When you stress your muscles during exercise, they begin to break down. But afterward, the magic happens. When the muscles repair, they build.
Toning your legs will challenge your balance regularly. We must work on our balance progressively as we age. The CDC says, "falls are preventable and do not have to be an inevitable part of aging."
Toning your legs will keep your bones healthy & strong. Unfortunately, bone loss is a part of the aging process for we women but men as well. Weight-bearing exercise is one way we can help our bodies keep my bones healthy. Functional variations of squats, lunges, front to back, and side to side movement are great weight-bearing exercises. One study concluded: Bone mineral density significantly increased for both non-weight bearing and weight-bearing exercise programs, with more significant improvement in the weight-bearing group.
This same study also showed that muscle strength was directly related to increased bone mineral density. Your muscles exert force to pull your bones as the muscle contracts and effectually stimulates bone formation.
Toning your legs will energize you and help reduce stress! When we exercise and tax our muscles (especially the big muscles of the legs), our bodies release feel-good hormones called endorphins. I skip my way out of the studio and get more done throughout the day. When we reduce stress, we reduce excess cortisol levels (stress hormones) in our bodies. Why is that important? Because cortisol makes your body hold on to fat.
Toning your legs will keep you "sharp." Cognitive health is a hot topic in the wellness world. Cognitive decline is a fact of aging, but not one that has to be inevitable. Physical activity can improve brain functions like memory and cognition immediately after a workout and long-term. From Harvard Health: "Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells."
Toning your legs will help you live in harmony with your hormones. At 58, I've gone through menopause, and I'm ever so grateful that exercise has been such a big part of my daily life for many, many years. I believe this and my knowledge of exercise and hormones have made a MASSIVE impact on my ease through the menopausal transition. This is why today I have a metabolic age of 39, healthy body composition, and energy levels of when I was in my mid-30's.