Women’s Health Week: 7 Essential Lower-Body Exercises

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Seven Lower-Body Exercises That Actually Work

Women’s Health Week kicks off with Mothers’ Day on the 10th of May and goes through the 16th. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health has designated this week to highlight how women can improve their health. Their goal is to help women make physical and mental health a priority.

Women often struggle to achieve body-part-specific weight loss. It’s a struggle because you can’t just lose inches off your thighs or only flatten your stomach. Weight loss is a total package—when more calories are burned than stored as fat, weight loss occurs everywhere. This may be the biggest difference between male and female exercise goals because women often want to keep their curves, which means they want their body fat redistributed (from their thighs to their breasts, for example).

Why It’s Important For Women To Exercise

Women’s exercise needs vary, depending on age. Young women can stave off bone loss with resistance training. Strong bones, especially in the spine and femur, prevent bent-over posture and hip fractures later in life. Hormone levels begin to shift with age, which affects weight maintenance. Changes in exercise intensity and a variety of fat-burning workouts will help keep the love handles, tummy pudge and thunder thighs under control. Exercise that causes the body to sweat, by raising the heart rate, will also affect hormone levels and help create feelings of wellness with mood elevation, which is good for women of any age.

Start by choosing an activity that raises your heart rate and that you enjoy. If you hate to run, but love to dance, then take dance-based fitness classes or go dancing. If you don’t like crowds, then bike or walk or skate. If you’re super short on time, explore Tabata or plyometric exercise routines, which take your heart rate up quickly and offer cardio benefits in short, burst intervals. If you don’t like feeling sweaty, aqua aerobics is great for keeping you cool.

Essential Workout Moves for Women

Women frequently experience pain in the lower extremities (ankle sprains and patellar-tendon strains) once they start exercising. Be sure to include the quad and ankle exercises below to help prevent injuries while toning the muscles in the areas you most want to change. All of these can be progressed from basic supported movements to advanced unsupported positions. Resistance training or sculpting should be part of your health regimen at least twice a week.

    Quad Strengthening:

  1. Leg extension with hip flexion–Kicks
    • Supported against a surface (wall, floor, chair) or unsupported
  2. Squats
    • Modified partial squat to a chair or bench, unsupported
  3. Ankle Stabilizing:

  4. Heel raises
    • Stationary or walking
  5. Tummy/Core:

  6. Crunches
    • Straight and twist
  7. Planks
    • On toes or modified on knees
  8. Butt toning:

  9. Hamstring curls
  10. Back kicks and sidekicks
    • Modified into a press on a machine or unsupported

Jodai Saremi

Jodai Saremi, DPM, BS , is a freelance writer, AFAA certified trainer, and fitness model. She has written for American Fitness, SPIN fitness, Your Health Connection magazines, and other online publications. Her articles have also been featured in textbooks. She enjoys an active lifestyle and lives in Ventura County, Calif. with her husband and two children.

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