Ask any woman to point out a problem area on her body, and chances are she’ll point to her dimpled thighs or buttocks. Atma JoAnn Levitt, head of the integrative weight-loss program at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, explains that cellulite is a collection of excess bodily fluid called lymph. When the blood doesn’t adequately circulate throughout the body, lymph accumulates under the skin and gives it a “cottage cheese” appearance. Fortunately, you can incorporate workouts for cellulite into your daily exercise routine to help smooth and tone your legs.
Cellulite builds up beneath the skin when it is unable to pass into the blood and exit the body. It stands to reason that one of the most important workouts for cellulite reduction is one that increases blood flow. Cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, jogging, swimming and biking, promote blood circulation. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week. In addition to improved circulation, cardiovascular exercise promotes sweating to release toxins and burns fat.
Practicing yoga also reduces cellulite by promoting increased blood flow. Yoga detoxifies the body through a series of gentle stretching techniques, delivering oxygenated blood to organs and muscles while ridding it of excess waste products. Likewise, yoga tones underlying muscles to give legs a sleeker appearance. Two especially helpful yoga workouts for cellulite reduction, according to “Women’s Health Magazine,” are the modified shoulderstand and the plow pose. To execute the modified shoulderstand, lie on your back with your hands extended, palm-down, by your side. Slowly rock up so that your knees rest on your forehead. Place your palms on your hips for support; hold the pose for eight to 10 breaths. Slowly release until you are lying flat on your back. The plow pose is an extension of the modified shoulderstand. Once in the modified shoulderstand position, raise your legs up and over your head until your toes touch the floor. Place your hands at your side and hold the pose for eight to 10 breaths.
To target cellulite reduction in a specific area, such as your thighs, concentrate on strength training with weights. Gyms and fitness stores offer machines to tone thighs and buttocks, such as the Smith machine. To maximize your workout safely, however, consult a personal trainer to demonstrate the proper way to use the machine. You can also use your own body weight to strengthen muscles, a concept called calisthenics. This no-cost method of strength training is convenient, because you can do it in your own home. A squat is one exercise that tones the thighs and buttocks. To perform a squat, place your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your upper body straight. Inhale as you come down slowly as if to sit in a chair. Exhale on your way up. For an added workout, squeeze the muscles in your buttocks when completing a squat. For maximum benefits, strength train three times a week for at least 15 minutes.
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