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The questions: What exercises can I do to slim my thighs?

The answer: Unfortunately, it is not possible to spot-reduce fat from particular areas. I know that can be frustrating to hear, especially if you do exercises like leg lifts that are supposed to target specific "trouble spots."

Don't despair. Although site-specific exercises don't necessarily decrease body fat, they aren't useless. They can help reshape the area, but you will only notice the difference once your overall body fat decreases.

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So, to slim your thighs I suggest this three-pronged approach.

First, decrease your overall body fat by improving your nutrition and increasing your metabolism by strength training. Strength training will increase your lean muscle mass, and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. Do exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once such as squats, lunges, deadlifts and push-ups.

Second, challenge your inner and outer thigh muscles to work in ways they are not accustomed to. Try side treadmill walking. (Don't worry if you get some odd looks. People stare at me as well). Stand sideways on a treadmill, your right foot by the control panel. As the belt moves left, step right. Start at .8 speed. When comfortable, increase your speed to a slow sideways jog for two minutes. Repeat facing the other direction.

Finally, do exercises where you prioritize using you inner and outer thighs to stabilize the knee. For example:

  • Mini ball squat: Stand with a small inflatable ball between your knees (find one at a dollar store). Squeeze the ball slightly as you bend at your knees, hips and ankles so your bum sits backward into a squat. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Band squats: Wrap a resistance band snugly around your thighs. As you squat, resist the band as it tries to pull your knees inward. Keep your knee in line with your middle toe as you squat. Repeat 15 times.

Trainer's Tip: For an extra challenge, try walking side squats. Stand sideways on the treadmill, right foot by the control panel. At .6 speed, squat to the right as the belt moves left. I know it sounds like you might fall off, but you won't. Just try it. Do one minute, then switch sides.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

Click here to submit your questions. Our Health Experts will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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