Getting lithe, attractive-looking legs with running is just the tip of the iceberg; running provides several benefits to individuals with long legs, including strength, toning, coordination and long-term health. A running routine won't make your legs longer, but if you're looking to slim and strengthen your legs, a regular run is a perfect form of exercise. Once you've got the strong, slim legs of a runner, you might find that they appear a bit longer as well.
Long and Strong
Longer legs have a lot of muscle, and running is a great exercise for strengthening them. As you run, your muscles contract, and strenuous exercise can occasionally tear some of the individual muscle fibers or myofibrils. This is a normal process; the tearing of a myofibril immediately stimulates the release of satellite cells from other nearby fibers, which collect on the torn fiber and rebuild it. The fiber is replaced with one that has a larger diameter, which accounts for muscle growth over time. Runners who take enough essential recovery time can build up very strong legs in a relatively short period of time.
Building Where It Counts
Running is a great form of exercise for your entire body, but a few muscles in your legs get special attention. Your gastrocnemius is the rounded, firm muscle at the back of your calf, and it is one of the largest fast-twitch muscles in the body. With each stride, your gastrocnemius contracts, propelling you forward. This action builds the gastrocnemius quickly but can leave you feeling sore if you're not used to running frequently. Your quadriceps also get a decent workout from running, becoming similarly larger and stronger over time.
Regular exercise and muscle strengthening also improves the tone of your muscles. Tone is a measure of the muscle's passive contraction, or the position it holds when you're at rest. Strengthening the muscles in your long legs with regular running can improve your posture through better toning, which can be especially important for tall individuals. A consistent running routine will improve the tone of your muscles automatically, giving you an added benefit.
A regular running routine keeps your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape, keeping blood circulating strongly to your extremities. This has long-term benefits for your heart. Kate Lovett of Vanderbilt University, referring to a 1996 Surgeon General report, says that "continuous and consistent physical activity is proven to enhance longevity and the quality of life for people of all ages." Running reduces your risk for atherosclerosis, a condition where blood flow in your arteries becomes restricted by plaque buildup, which can lead to heart disease and death. For people with long legs, having good circulation is especially important, since your heart has to work harder to circulate blood through your legs and feet.
- Montana State University: How Muscles Work
- Vanderbuilt University: Exercise and Disease Prevention
- Natural Running Clinic: Calf Soreness in Runners
- Vanderbilt University: The Benefits of Running
- University of New Mexico: How Do Muscles Grow?
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What Is Atherosclerosis?