Toned, shapely legs and ankles are a classic sign of beauty, and your lower legs are visible even in long dresses and flowing skirts. It's often easier to tone this area than the frequently problematic thighs, and you don't need fancy equipment or a personal trainer to shape your legs.
Aerobic exercise -- also known as cardio -- works out your entire body and gets your heart pounding. If you're hoping to shed fat on your legs, cardio is the ticket. This form of exercise burns significantly more calories than targeted toning and can help keep your heart and lungs healthy. Focus on cardiovascular exercises that also work your legs such as jumping on a trampoline, running or bicycling.
Ballet dancers are renowned for their shapely, strong legs, so take a cue from the ballerina play book and try calf raises. Standing straight with your feet a few inches apart, slowly rise to the balls of your feet while tensing your calf muscles. Position a table, bar or chair directly in front of you for support if you struggle with balance. Hold the calf raise for five seconds, then slowly lower your heels back to the ground. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, try holding small hand weights in each hand.
The ankles are prone to injury, especially if you're a runner, but regular ankle exercise can strengthen this important joint. For a simple ankle exercise, try ankle rolls. While sitting on a chair or lying down, lift your right leg off the ground and support your thigh with your hands. Then rotate your ankle clockwise five times then counterclockwise five times. Point and then flex your foot five to 10 times. Repeat on the left leg.
Box jumps work your calves and shins, but they can also help tone your thighs, butt and even your abs. Position a platform that is 6 to 12 inches high in front of you while you stand straight. The platform should be sturdy enough to support your weight. Bend your knees in preparation to jump, then jump up onto the box. Your feet should be parallel to one another as you jump. Land on the box and bend your knees slightly, but avoid leaning forward on them. Step off of the platform and repeat five to 10 times.
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.