Article by FabafterFifty
Striding confidently into a room on a perfect pair of pins might seem like something you just have to give up after a certain age, but the truth is that you can still have perfect legs after 50. It might take a little more work than in your twenties and thirties, but strong, toned legs are achievable. What’s more, the health of your legs is often an indicator of overall health, so the extra effort you put in to sculpt shapely legs can have other fantastic benefits!
Exercising for Sexy, Shapely Legs After 50
One sure-fire way to keep your legs healthy and looking great is to get consistent exercise, including specific activities that tone the leg muscles. Straight leg lifts using weights (or not) are ideal as part of an overall exercise routine, as is biking, which is kind on the knees. Squats, running uphill, and stair-climbing can all put increased strain on knee cartilage however, so it’s best to tone the thighs, calves, and ankles using controlled, purposeful exercises with or without weights.
Yoga and Pilates are also fantastic ways to help keep your limbs in good order as you age. These types of exercise not only help build and maintain muscle mass, giving the legs a more toned and healthy appearance, they also encourage proprioception and balance, meaning that you might be less likely to suffer a fall or other accident that can lead to broken bones and bruises.
What Your Legs Are Saying About Your Health
The appearance of your legs can offer an early warning about general health problems, such as peripheral vascular disease or peripheral artery disease, and diabetes. Symptoms such as leg pain, cramping, poor healing of the lower extremities, and feelings of achiness, heaviness, burning or discomfort in the legs can all indicate systemic health issues that need to be checked out.
These conditions arise when body-wide inflammation is high and/or leg arteries and veins are blocked or dysfunctional. Decreased blood flow in the legs not only means that the muscles and nerves are not receiving the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly, it also means that the skin is poorly nourished. Over time, this leads to weaker legs with dull skin tone and poorer healing from simple scrapes and knocks.
Varicose Veins and Leg Health
Unhealthy circulation and high blood pressure can increase the likelihood of varicose veins occurring. While not a health concern in themselves, varicose veins are often considered unsightly and may indicate a more serious underlying health issue. They are also a major reason for cosmetic surgery on the legs, especially when the veins become painful.
Peripheral artery disease and varicose veins are common, especially in men over the age of 50, and in people with abnormal cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and those who have had a stroke or who smoke. As such, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and taking steps to reduce stress or handle stress better can all have a positive effect on the health and appearance of your legs.
Keep Your Legs Sexy During Winter Months
Focusing on aesthetics again, one of the best ways to ensure traffic-stopping legs is to look after your skin. When your legs spend many months covered by jeans, leggings, tights, boots and ankle warmers all winter, it might take a little work to get the skin looking bright and healthy again. The key thing here is to take care of your legs over winter and be strides ahead of everyone else come spring time.
Two primary ways to keep your legs looking fabulous all year round are to exfoliate and moisturise. These encourage healthy cellular turnover, healing, and rejuvenation. A build-up of dead skin cells can prevent the skin from breathing properly, and can lead to blocked pores, angry red bumps, and lifeless, grey skin.
Applying a gentle exfoliant (such as oatmeal), using long upward strokes from the ankle to the hips, helps slough off dead skin cells and encourages good venous return and circulation. After exfoliating, use a similar technique to apply a good moisturiser, which helps maintain an effective skin barrier, tones up the legs, and even makes it easier to remove unwanted leg hair.
Exfoliating and moisturising also help ensure an even colour if you decide to use self-tanning lotions or mousses as otherwise the product can clump together around dead skin cells and dry skin on the ankles, knees and toe-tops, leaving dark patches.
Eating Your Way to Perfect Legs After 50
Ensuring a healthy diet is also essential for great looking legs as good nutrition supports circulation, muscle function, and healthy skin. As a general rule, it is recommended to eliminate or at least reduce intake of red meats and dairy products, as well as other sources of saturated fats, and to eat a low Glycemic index diet that helps stabilise blood sugar levels and decreases inflammation.
Eating plenty of fibre (both soluble and insoluble) from vegetables, fruits, grains and beans, and healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds is also recommended if you want perfect legs after 50.