Great legs are a timeless sign of beauty, but they rarely happen on their own. While genetic factors such as height, frame and metabolism can make it easier to have great legs, most people have to work out regularly to keep their legs in good shape. How much you'll have to work can vary depending upon your diet, age, health and many other factors, but many people can get great legs without spending all their time at the gym.
The amount of fat on your legs is a major factor that can determine how shapely your legs look. No matter how much muscle you have, it won't be noticeable if you have a lot of fat on your legs. A 2005 study published in the journal "Obesity" emphasizes that genetic factors play a strong role in both the amount of fat on your body and its location. Even if you have genetically slim legs, though, a poor diet and little exercise can cause you to quickly build fat. Regular aerobic exercise such as jogging or jumping rope can help burn fat. The amount of exercise you'll need to do will vary depending upon how quickly you build muscle and burn fat, but MayoClinic.com points out that people may need as much as 300 minutes of aerobic exercise each week to lose weight.
Long legs are a coveted body feature, and there's little you can do to affect the length of your legs. If you're short or have relatively short legs, though, regular exercise can create the illusion of longer legs. As you shed fat and build muscle, your legs will appear longer. Try a combination of aerobic exercise to burn fat and strength training to build muscle.
The shape of your legs isn't the only factor that can affect their appearance. Smooth, hydrated skin can help your legs look healthy and younger. Skin tone and texture is partially influenced by genetics, but there are several steps you can take to keep your legs looking healthy. Exfoliate before shaving to prevent razor bumps, and moisturize with a high-quality lotion daily. If you have pale legs, skip the tanning bed, which can cause skin cancer and age spots. Instead, try a spray tan or tanning moisturizer.
Genetics can affect the shape and placement of the muscles of your legs, and some people naturally build muscle more quickly. But with regular workouts, you can develop shapely leg muscles. Some people have to go to the gym every day, but most can get away with only a few days a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends one to two days of strength training per week. Try exercises such as squats, lunges and leg presses.
- Obesity: Total and Regional Fat Distribution is Strongly Influenced by Genetic Factors in Young and Elderly Twins
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss -- Calories Burned in One Hour
- Paula's Choice: The Art of the Perfect Shave
- MayoClinic.com: Dry Skin
- Anatomy of the Moving Body; Theodore Dimon Jr. et al.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.