How to Keep the Legs Slim After a Long Layoff From Running

Tone your legs with indoor cycling.

Tone your legs with indoor cycling.

Along with an endorphin rush that can make you feel like you’re queen of the world, running greatly contributes to keeping your legs slim. Unfortunately, suffering a foot, ankle or leg injury can stop you in your tracks. But that doesn’t mean your legs have to suffer; as long as your doctor gives approval, there are numerous methods for keeping your lower body slim and svelte.

Consult with your physician before starting an exercise program if you've been out with a leg injury. Have your doctor perform a full check-up to ensure your legs, ankles and feet are completely healthy and ready to begin working out. Follow your doctor’s directions regarding the appropriate type of exercise, duration and frequency.

Eat a healthy diet to keep your overall body weight down, which can have a positive impact on the size and shape of your legs. Choose foods like whole grain carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy monounsaturated fats and fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid consuming items that contain added sugars or saturated fats.

Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise per week. Cardio helps to increase your metabolism and burn fat throughout your entire body, including your legs. Start slowly if you're just retuning to exercise and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you get stronger. Choose a form of cardio that you enjoy and that your doctor has approved. High calorie burning forms of cardio that are low impact, yet still work your legs, include indoor-cycling classes, rowing and swimming.

Perform two to three resistance-training sessions per week that strengthen your entire body, including your legs. Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which helps to maximize your metabolism. Perform two to four sets of each exercise. Choose resistance levels that allow you to complete eight to 12 repetitions with proper form. Increase the weight amount when you're able to complete 12 reps. Allow 48 hours rest between training sessions for recovery. Incorporate leg toning exercises, such as squats, lunges, leg curls, side leg raises and calf raises.

Stretch at the end of your exercise sessions for at least 10 to 15 minutes to help your leg muscles recover; tight or stiff muscles can be prone to injuries. Use slow, gradual movements when stretching. Breathe deeply; inhale through your nose for a count of five and exhale through your mouth, also for a count of five.

 

About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

Photo Credits

  • IT Stock/Polka Dot/Getty Images