This exercise is great for the hips, the outer part that without some sort of lateral motion like roller blading, hockey, basketball or a slide board is usually not exercised and becomes weak. In women, saddle bags or flabby thigh muscles can occur and in men a tightness in the hips that results in weakness and inflexibility. Male or female you will have weakness with stairs, walking or running, and you may notice when you stand your knees fall into each other, because your hips are weak. This can also cause issues with your back, as your hips lose flexibility and strength.
A great way to exercise the outer or lateral portion of hips is to do a standing exercise that promotes balance, good posture and unfolds your hips from the flexion of sitting at a desk (or too much couch time!). You can use your desk or chair for balance, as long as you can stand up tall. If you are leaning to gain support, use your finger tip on the wall to keep yourself up tall and balanced. Actively bring your leg out to the side and hold it out for a pause or 2-3 seconds, depending on your fitness level and balance…in heels like I did, it really challenges the balance, but can be done! Just watch your ankle, and if you need to, slip off those 5 inch heels to have a better base of support with the feet flat on the floor, please do. Then, after a pause or hold of your leg out to the side; actively control the leg back to the other leg. Keep your feet even in the front, don’t let the toes sneak out in front of the other toes. If you do you’ll be using the stronger hip flexor muscles on the front of your legs that are usually overly tight and strong from sitting. We are working the usually weaker Hip Abductor muscles with this exercise.
So…stand up tall and do some indoor “snow angles” to strengthen the hips and extend the body from sitting! Start with 10 reps in a set, and increase you as you improve the strength and balance in your legs. Don’t lean to the side to assist the leg lifting and make sure you hold it out or pause so that momentum of the leg isn’t occurring. You can swing your leg all day, but to tone and strengthen, keep your mind on what you are doing!
Lastly, breathe! Inhale through the nose and exhale deeply through the mouth. When we sit we can also breathe shallow as we squish forward onto our organs and lungs. Use this time to deeply inhale and exhale with the motion, lifting from the crown of the head and extending the entire body with great posture while fully inflating the lungs with diaphragmatic breathing. Exhale with the motion of most force or bringing the leg out to the side, and inhale as you control the leg back to the other, or the starting position.
To make this more difficult, add a resistance band or an ankle weight!