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Lovely legs through the decades…

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Last year's winner of the X Factor, 21-year-old Alexandra Burke, is blessed with stunning legs - but they take work to keep in shape 

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During your 30s, like Victoria Beckham, wide-stance squats can help maintain tone, while eating six-to-seven small meals throughout the day - rather than three large meals - helps elevate your metabolism 

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Jennifer Aniston's pins look even better at 40 than when she started in Friends 15 years ago, Drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugar in your diet are two ways to help with fat loss 

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It's easy to see why Strictly Come Dancing professional Brendan Cole calls his dance partner Jo Wood a 'sexy granny' with legs like these at 53 

13 OCTOBER 2009

We’ve got Jade Ewen wearing skimpy hotpants in her debut Sugababes video and Alexandra Burke sporting a thigh-skimming frock on the X Factor. Yes, it’s currently the golden age of celebrity legs.

But you don’t have to be in your twenties to have perfect pins, as Jo Wood proves so beautifully at the age of 53 in Strictly Come Dancing.

Jennifer Aniston’s pins look even better at 40 than when Friends hit our screens 15 years ago and Victoria Beckham still turns a shapely ankle in 30s in her trademark high heels.

So we asked celebrity trainer Ross Edgley of supplements specialists LA Muscle (www.femmeslender.com) to tell us how to keep our pins as perfect as possible through the ages…

In your thirties…
You begin to see the early signs of ageing - skin becomes less firm and studies show you can lose 5% lean muscle mass for each decade after 30 - meaning the muscles of the legs can become less shapely, the gluteus muscles of the bottom can sag and the skin appears less smooth. Your body’s metabolism also slows down.

* Eat a diet rich in plant-based foods, since they are high in antioxidants and other photochemicals which can help prevent cell damage that, over time, can lead to the weakening of the body tissue, and can therefore lead to premature skin ageing.

* Try and incorporate weight training into your workouts since studies show this can help increase your metabolism and help burn more calories and fat than you normally would.

*A great exercise to firm up the glutes is the wide-stance squat (remember to keep your bottom tucked in and your back straight). By ensuring legs are far apart you engage the muscles of the bottom more efficiently, for a natural lift.

* Eat six-to-seven small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals. It means your metabolism stays elevated and you are therefore less prone to put on fat.

In your forties…
You continue to lose muscle mass and are also very prone to storing body fat - lipogenisis. But the main threat comes in the form of skin conditions like cellulite and ‘glycation’.

*Avoid sugar in your diet since sugar increases insulin levels which can then in turn increase lipogenisis - fat gain - and reduce lipolysis - fat loss.

* Excess sugar can lead to ‘glycation’ where sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (or, appropriately, AGEs for short). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop which can in turn damage certain proteins such as collagen which becomes dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging.

* Prevent the build up of toxins in the body by avoiding tobacco, caffeine, preservatives and spicy foods which may help reduce the fatty deposits that cause cellulite.

* Drink plenty of water - essential for fat loss because if the body doesn’t have a sufficient supply, the kidneys cannot function efficiently.

In your fifties…
Muscle mass is still decreasing and the metabolism has slowed down dramatically meaning problems such as varicose veins and a stagnant lymph system can greatly affect the appearance of the legs.

* Stop smoking since this weakens the skin by causing constriction of capillaries and therefore the circulatory system. As well as causing premature skin aging, it can also damage the connective tissue that causes the dimpling effect of cellulite.

* Varicose veins are most likely to occur in women in their 50’s but can be prevented by performing three, 40-minute low-intensity cardio sessions (walking, gentle cycling, swimming) a week. Try to elevate your heart rate to between 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. Low-intensity exercise has the ability to mobilise and oxidise more fat compared to high intensity training - like sprinting.

* A stagnant lymph system can cause bad circulation which can lead to a ‘swollen’ appearance to the legs, making them appear untoned. To help stimulate both the circulatory system and the lymph system - thus serving to eliminate toxins from the body - breathe in, hold and out for a ratio of 1:4:2.

Please consult your doctor before embarking on a new exercise regime and don’t forget to warm up and cool down with each session.

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