How many of us like the image we see when we look in the mirror? Do we see thunder thighs and curveless calves instead of lean, luscious legs?

Even if we can’t get to the gym every day, we can take small strides to improve our shape. Fine-tuning exercises can help.

These moves are no magic bullet, yet they can certainly target the stabilization muscles, the adductors, or our inner thigh muscles, and the abductors, our hip muscles. These muscles are important for balance and stability for everyday movements such as climbing stairs.

Don’t be afraid to use a mirror. It will help you visualize your thighs thinning.

A simple exercise is the side-lying leg lift. Lie on your left side with your left leg bent and your right leg fully extended. Your hips should be squarely stacked. With your abs and lower back tight and your toes facing forward, lift your right leg up to just above hip height, then rotate your ankle so that your toes point up at the top of the movement.

Turn your toes forward again and slowly lower your leg to the starting position. Try 15 to 20 reps, then turn over to your right side and repeat 15 to 20 times.

To add challenge, attach a five-pound ankle weight to the lifting leg.

Maintaining proper hip alignment makes the exercise most effective.

When you strive to add a bit of exercise every day, you make a conscious choice to improve your health and well-being. And while a picture-perfect body may never stare back at you, your dedication to improving yourself will always be beautifully reflected in your spirit.

(Nancy Cole is a certified personal trainer who teaches at Body & Soul in Coral Gables, Fla.)

(c) 2003, The Miami Herald.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.


PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):

AP-NY-09-26-03 0621EDT

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