Are you under 40 and worried about the health of your legs? If so, you are not alone. Taking care of your legs is essential, especially as you approach the big goal of 4-0. Not to mention, maintaining strong legs and overall lower-body strength is key to reducing the risk of falling and supporting balance and mobility as you get older, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science. However, some fitness habits can take a toll on your legs, leaving you sidelined and frustrated. Today we show you six fitness habits that will destroy your legs before the age of 40.
To help you avoid these habits and keep your legs in top shape, we chatted with Rose McNulty, CPT, personal trainer and NASM Certified Nutritionist with Garage Gym Reviews, who reveals the detrimental effects these habits can have on joints and muscles. Regardless of your fitness level or preferred form of exercise, avoiding these harmful habits can help keep your legs toned, fit, and strong so you’re ready to take on any challenge.
Read on to learn more about the six fitness habits that destroy legs before age 40, then check out the best leg-strengthening exercises for women.
While leg workouts are essential for building strength and endurance, overtraining can lead to muscle fatigue, tension, and injury. You should listen to your body’s signals and include rest days in your fitness routine to avoid overtraining syndrome. Switch up your target muscle groups and let your legs rest for a day or two while you train other parts of the body, or do light activity between sessions to get the blood flowing and help your muscles recover gently.
“Muscle overtraining can lead to a plateau in progress or worse, injury,” warns McNulty. “The same goes for your legs, so be sure to plan a balanced schedule of workouts and rest. It’s also important to remember that while your muscles grow from training, they make the necessary repairs to grow while you rest.”
Stretching is an often overlooked aspect of fitness, but it plays a crucial role in maintaining flexibility, improving mobility and reducing the risk of injury, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science. Make sure you stretch after you warm up, not before, and only stretch to the point of slight discomfort, not pain.
“When it comes down to it, all of your muscles work together to keep you moving and performing even the simplest tasks,” says McNulty. “In the legs, it’s obvious that all of your muscles work like links in a chain, which is why taking the time to stretch is important. When one muscle is strained or injured, the rest compensate, leading to further imbalance or injury.”
Whether at a desk or in front of the TV, excessive sitting can contribute to tight hip flexors and weakened glutes, according to research. So make sure you take frequent breaks to get up, stretch, and take short walks to avoid long-term damage to your legs.
“Sitting for long periods can lead to tight leg and hip muscles over time. This can turn into a plateau or injury during workouts if you don’t take the time to stretch the muscles on the front of your legs and make movements to mitigate imbalances, like squats and glute work,” McNulty explains.
“High-impact exercises like running or plyometric workouts are fine in moderation and can get you closer to your fitness goals, but these types of workouts can also be hard on the joints,” says McNulty. “Unless you’re training specifically for an endurance event in a high-impact activity, like running, it’s wise to change the forms of training you do to prevent injuries from overusing the same muscles repeatedly.”
Vary your exercise routine and incorporate low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling to give your legs a break while still staying active.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. See a professional and modify your workouts if you experience persistent discomfort or pain in your legs.
“The old saying goes, ‘No pain, no gain’ and it’s time to forget about it. While exercising isn’t exactly comfortable, sharp pain during a workout shouldn’t be ignored. Pushing through may seem difficult, but the right thing to do it’s about stopping what you’re doing when you experience sharp pains, seeing a doctor if the pain doesn’t ease, and giving yourself adequate time to recover,” advises McNulty.
The last of the worst fitness habits that destroy your legs after 40 has to do with neglecting nutrition. “Nutrition is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight,” says McNulty. “And when it comes to healthy joints, maintaining a healthy weight is important to help prevent long-term hip, knee, or even osteoarthritis pain. Obesity can also increase overall inflammation throughout the body.” , increasing the risk of chronic disease over time.”
Make sure you are eating a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins and minerals to support healthy weight management and reduce strain on the lower body.
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