Your hips and thighs are one of the biggest trouble spots for women looking to maintain their health and appearance.
It’s the area where your excess fat is often stored, which dates back thousands of years and is said to have helped your ancestors (the ones that lived in caves around the time of the dinosaurs) survive during times of drought and famine.
Having fuller hips and thighs is also said to be a good sign for a woman’s ability to give birth and feed their child during those same famine conditions. Great for the younger generation, but what about those who have reached menopause and are moving down the other side of the mountain?
You tend to lose muscle and bone mass as you get older. Typically that amount could be between 2 and 5 per cent, which is why regular strength training can assist in increasing your bone density and keep you feeling fit and healthy.
Strong and toned thigh muscles support knee movement and other damage that comes as you age.
Naturally, it’s important you consult your regular health care professional before commencing a new exercise program.
Here are four moves you can do at home to tone your hips and thighs (and even tackle that cellulite) while building the muscles in your legs.
1. Seated pillow squeeze
This one works on your inner thighs. You want to sit on a sturdy chair, so don’t use one with wheels, and rest your feet on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Using a pillow, place it between your thighs and squeeze. You want to breathe out as you squeeze the pillow. Hold the squeeze for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and maintain your normal breathing pattern. When the time is up, release the squeeze.
2. Straight leg lifts
You can do this one sitting down also, and it works the front of your thighs. You want to rest your feet on the floor and have your knees bent at 90 degrees. With your hands resting on the chair at your sides, exhale and lift and extend your left leg. Hold for between 15 and 30 seconds, breathing normally. Then inhale as your lower the left leg and exhale as you repeat the action with your right leg.
Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, you want to engage (tighten) your abdominal area and bring your arms out in front of you to counterbalance. Keeping your weight on your heels, lower yourself towards the floor by bending at your hips and knees. Push you bottom out as if you were going to sit on the toilet. Pause for a second or two and then slowly rise, pushing through your heels. This exercise works your hips, thighs, buttocks and builds the strength of your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles.
4. Standing abductor
This exercise is good for your hips. Brace yourself by holding on to a wall or a chair, and stand straight with your knees slightly bent. Keep your right leg extended and your right foot flexed and then lift your right leg out to the side. You want to lift as far as you can go without moving your upper body. When you’ve reached that point, pause and then slowly return the leg to the starting position. Perform the exercise on the right leg between five and 10 times and then repeat with the opposite leg.