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Ester Marsh column: Workouts to prepare for warm weather

Happy Spring everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am ready for it.

With this beautiful and warmer weather, it is almost time for shorts and tank tops.

This week, I hope to give you tips and guidance how to shape up your legs. Next week, I will get into the “core” and how to get a flat belly and get rid of the “muffin top.”

One thing I have noticed with age is that gravity can be ruthless. Skin loses its elasticity, and “sag” can occur. Throughout the winter, we really do not worry about it too much because our legs are covered with warm pants, panty hose, long skirt or slacks.

But that first weekend when you put on your shorts for the first time, you might not be too happy with what you see — white and/or ashy legs, skin tone below acceptance, firmness going “south,” etc.

In a perfect world, we could go through the winter gracefully and maybe just deal with white legs and that’s it. A bit of sun or tanning bed can take care of that. Watching your weight and figure throughout the winter is another way to prevent that shock when you put on your shorts for the first time, but only in a perfect world, right?

There is hope! And yes, it takes work and dedication. Is it excess weight or un-toned muscles? Or both?

Excess weight needs to be addressed by a healthy diet. Remember, it takes burning 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight. Cutting 500 calories per day (very doable) will have you lose one pound in one week (and keep it off).

For un-toned muscles, the following are my favorite leg exercises. I don’t always like them, but I love the results.

• Squats — like you are sitting on a chair and when your quads (upper legs) are parallel with the floor stand back up, repeat.

• Lunges — make a big step forward, bend your front leg, making sure your knee does not pass your toes and press back to standing position. Repeat on other leg.

• Leg extensions — Use a machine, but check with a trainer to make sure you are doing it correctly.

• Leg curls — again, check with a trainer

• Calf raises — There are machines you can use or you can stand on a step with the balls of your feet and raise your heels up and lower to start again.

You want to work on strength (higher weight with lower repetitions such as 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps), and strength endurance (higher reps and lower weight such as 2 sets of 15-20 reps). Make sure between each muscle group workout you have 48 hours of rest in between sessions. You need to be patient. Just because you started does not mean it all gets into shape immediately. How long did it take you to get out of shape? Well, its takes a while to get it back into shape!

Eating a healthy diet, hydrating with plenty of water, regular workouts and a bit of sun will make a world of difference in how you look and feel in your summer shorts or skirt!

Ester H Marsh Associate Executive Director JF Hurley family YMCA

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