It's true that excess fat in your thighs might not pose the same health risks as too much around your middle, but you probably don't like the way it looks and you probably don't feel healthy. While you can't use exercise to spot reduce your thighs, a good mix of cardio and strength training helps you burn fat and tone the muscles in the area. Running is a good form of cardio for many women because you can do it when your schedule allows and you don't need any special equipment.
Running for Weight Loss
To effectively lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. A low-calorie diet is important, but exercise is vital as well. Many women find it difficult to fit in a workout on a regular basis: Who has time after work, child care and chores? This makes running a good choice if you want to slim down your thighs, because you can run outdoors or indoors on a treadmill. You'll notice weight loss all over your body, since running doesn't target your thighs alone.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of cardio each week. If you want to lose excess weight in your thighs, you might have to double this amount to see results, especially if you already exercise regularly. Don't panic. You don't have to do it all at once. Spread your workouts throughout the week, which makes it easier to fit in and keeps your metabolism going. Try running for 45 to 60 minutes five days a week. Or take a 15-minute run in the morning, at lunch and after dinner, which offers similar benefits without you having to rearrange your schedule.
To really ramp up your calorie burn, try interval training. This type of training is ideal for running, and involves alternating moderate running with vigorous running. Not only will you burn more calories and slim your thighs faster, but you can also shorten your exercise time if you have trouble fitting in an entire workout. For example, run at a brisk pace for three minutes, then go as fast as you can for one minute. Alternate back and forth throughout your run.
While cardio is a valuable way to burn excess fat on your thighs, strength training is important for toning the muscles in your upper legs. Running is a good choice for cardio because it activates your thigh muscles and burns calories, but adding squats, lunges and deadlifts, for example, increases the benefits and builds lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolism and burns additional calories. Aim to strength train two or three days a week for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, with at least one day of rest between.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.