Getting active: lower body workouts

Exercise is an important tool in maintaining blood sugar levels, but remember to consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine. Here's some lower body workouts to help you get active and stay fit.

Getting active: lower body workouts

1. Stair step-up

This move helps build strong leg muscles and requires absolutely no equipment. Yes, you can use a special exercise step, but it's not necessary. A regular step in your home is preferable because you can lightly grasp the stair rail for support. To keep track of repetitions, count step-ups on just one foot.

  1. Stand in front of a step with both feet on the floor about hip-width apart.
  2. Place your right foot solidly on the stair and step up. Bring your left foot up and touch it lightly on the step before lowering it back to the floor.
  3. Step down with your right foot.
  4. Step up with your left foot, bringing your right foot up and touching it lightly on the step, then lowering it back to the floor. Alternate steps in this way, counting one repetition when each foot has stepped up one time.

Alternatives:

  • Make this exercise more difficult by using only one foot instead of alternating.
  • For example, use the right foot to step up, step down, then step up again rather than alternating with the left foot.
  • When you've finished a set of step-ups with the right foot, do a set with the left.

2. Make more muscle

This exercise works the abductor muscles on the outside of the hip and outer thigh.

  1. Lie on your right side with both legs extended and resting one on top of the other, supporting your head with your right hand.
  2. In a smooth and controlled motion, lift your fully extended left leg straight up as high as you comfortably can. Then lower it back to the starting position. After one set, repeat with the other leg.

If you feel unstable in the starting position, try bending the lower leg to provide a wider base of support. If this exercise becomes too easy, try performing it while wearing light ankle weights. Start with 225-gram (half-pound) or 450-gram (one-pound) weights.

3. The standing hip extension

Perform this exercise facing a sturdy chair, countertop or table to rest your hands on for balance and support. It works your hips, buttocks, hamstrings and lower back.

  1. Stand with feet about hip-width apart, lightly holding a chair or counter.
  2. Without bending the knee, move your left leg from the hip back behind you. Return slowly to the starting position. After one set, repeat with the other leg.

Don't lock the knee of the leg you stand on, but instead keep it slightly bent. While the motion is pendulum-like, you shouldn't let momentum do the work. Perform the move slowly, especially during the return phase. If this exercise becomes too easy, try it with a light ankle weight.

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