In the perpetual quest for the perfect body, it's easy to get caught up in targeting problem areas and using cardio to burn calories. Lower body strength, however, plays an important role in your overall physical fitness and health. It can also help rev up your metabolism so that other exercises work more effectively. If you neglect your lower body, you could be missing out on some of the most important benefits of your exercise routine.
Lower Body Muscles
Your hips, butt and legs make up your lower body, the location of some of the largest and strongest muscles of the body. Your quadriceps, for example, are the four large muscles in the front of the thigh. These muscles extend your knee. Your calf -- two muscles located on the back of your lower leg -- bend your foot. Exercises such as squats, lunges, calf raises and leg presses can all help increase your lower body strength. Cardio exercise such as running, bicycling and jumping can also improve lower body strength while moving your joints through their full range of motion.
Agility and Balance
Your lower body helps to stabilize your entire body both when you're sweating on the treadmill and when you're doing normal activities like grocery shopping or playing with your dog. This stabilization can help improve your agility and balance. Better agility means it will be easier to move without falling, while good balance can help you avoid falls and injuries during exercise. Good balance also helps to ensure that your muscles get a healthy, even workout and that you avoid muscle imbalances.
Stamina and Metabolism
Lower body strength plays a key role in increasing your stamina. Even if you're not planning to run a marathon or sprint around a track, stamina can make everyday exercise easier and help you avoid overuse injuries. Over time, strengthening the muscles of your lower body can also help you to burn more calories because muscles burn more calories than fat. If you're trying to lose weight, this can be a huge boon to your fitness goals.
Muscle weaknesses can cause painful muscle knots, according to "The Myofascial Release Manual." Strengthening your lower body will reduce your muscle pain. It can also help to improve your posture because it stabilizes your body. This means that, if you spend all day stooped over a computer or slinging a heavy bag, you'll be less likely to experience pain from strain.
- Focus Magazine: Building a Good Lower Body Foundation
- Perform Better: Agility Training for Athletic Performance
- Sports Injury Clinic: Human Muscles
- Exercise Physiology; Scott Powers et al.
- The Myofascial Release Manual; Carol Manheim
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
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