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Full hips and thick thighs have always been prized in the black community, but that doesn’t stop a woman from looking in the mirror and wishing she had that Beyoncé thigh gap or a little less jiggle. There’s no one exercise that can give you award-winning thighs—for the fifty-leventh time: Spot reducing fat doesn’t work—but here’s what can help:

  1. Get in that cardio. Burning calories is the way to reduce overall body fat, and heart-thumping cardio is the fastest way to do that. Select cardio that burns the most calories, such as biking, jumping rope and running, and squeeze in hour-long sessions five times a week to notice a real difference. Bonus: These activities also tone your legs while you’re doing them.
  2. Make time to tone. All that calorie- and fat-burning cardio you’re doing will reveal strong muscles. Adding moves that sculpt your inner and outer thighs, hamstrings and booty will make your legs look leaner and slimmer. Include a few strength-training sessions that target your lower body each week. Give that 30-day squat challenge a go!
  3. Do it on a hill. It being cardio. Tackle some hills during your run, pump up the treadmill’s incline or run stairs at the local high school football stadium. You’ll notice the heart-rate increase right away, which means you’re working harder and burning more calories than if you exercise on a flat surface. An incline also targets the butt, hamstrings and thighs.
  4. Stay hydrated. Save hundreds of calories by sipping water instead of sodas, fruit juices and other sugar-sweetened beverages. It keeps you hydrated and encourages portion control, both of which help with weight loss.
  5. Celebrate your genes. If a pear-shaped body has been passed down through the generations in your family (your grandmother, mother, aunts and sisters have one, too), there’s not a whole lot exercise and eating right can change. Stay active and eat well, but don’t obsess about it. Love the body you were given—thick thighs and all!

This post appeared first on Black Health Matters.

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