Importance of Leg Workouts
Your leg muscles are among the largest in your body and working them out can provide a significant metabolic effect on your body. Exercises that tax the leg muscles, according to Bodybuilding.com, can stimulate the release of growth hormones that increase mass and size. Leg workouts can help to improve your ability to engage in cardiovascular exercise and lifting, because stronger legs translate into better endurance and core strength.
Aerobic forms of leg workouts such as running, walking and cycling don't just improve general health, they also encourage your leg muscles to grow. This muscle growth causes an increase in your metabolism, because muscle tissue has higher energy requirements than fat. Leg workouts therefore can facilitate weight loss in addition to providing cardiovascular benefits. Metabolism, however, only accounts for a portion of weight loss, and exercise should be combined with a decrease in caloric intake to sustain long-term weight reduction.
Exercise that includes leg workouts helps to increase and maintain bone density. This can help decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis. In addition, strengthening the legs can lead to weight loss that causes less stress on your bones and joints. Increasing strength in your legs can be accomplished by performing exercises such as leg curls, squats and leg presses. Adding weight can increase resistance and subsequently, the demands on your leg muscles that forces them to grow to adapt.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Beyond the bone-strengthening benefits of leg workouts, these exercises can also reduce your risk of other leg injuries. Focusing your exercise efforts on a single muscle can lead to stress on other muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. This can lead to injury while engaging in leg workouts, as well as workouts that require core strength, balance and attention to form. For example, runners may encounter knee problems if they don't use leg workouts that engage the tibialis anterior muscle, located at the front portion of your lower leg.
The term "core fitness" refers to the strength of the muscle groups in and near your midsection, hence the term "core." Strengthening the legs through regular workouts also helps to improve your ability to push, lift and be flexible. According to Princeton University, it's easy to place less emphasis on the core muscles because they require conscious effort to contract. The university goes on to explain that leg workouts that include hamstring stretches, hip flexions and butt lifts can help strengthen your core fitness.
- Christopher Evans: Muscles of The Thigh and Leg
- Mayo Clinic: Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
- Journal of Clinical Investigation: Glucose Metabolism During Leg Exercise in Man
- Bodybuilding.com: Getting Your Legs in Shape.
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- Mayo Clinic: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Lower Leg Injuries - How to Stay Trouble Free
- Princeton University: Lumbar/Core Strength and Stability Exercises
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.