As a personal trainer, I tell my clients that leg strengthening exercises are super important to maintain independence as they age. Over time, we lose mobility, and exercises for elderly are a great way to retain as much of it as we can.
Strengthening our legs not only helps us stand up from a chair or climb up sets, but also improves our balance and helps us step over and around things without falling.
I love working on legs with seniors because it quickly adds to their ability to perform daily living tasks and I love seeing people get stronger. Many seniors struggle with arthritis and I love to see them working through it.
After the age of 40, we start to lose muscle mass and begin to weaken. After 50, strength loss increases by 15% each decade. Strength training is the best way to minimize this problem.
Leg strengthening exercises are necessary as we get older to reduce the risk of falls, increase energy, help us keep the pounds off, and prevent or counteract diseases. It’s the best thing you can to do stay healthy.
Exercise reduces the risk of getting Alzheimer’s by 50%. Keeping your weight down helps prevent osteoarthritis. It helps balance and supports your body. Regular exercise reduces the risk of falling by 23% and falls account for 40% of injuries to the elderly. A senior citizen dies every 19 minutes in this country due to a fall.
It was tough watching my mother get older. I watched her go from being able to do and go where she wanted to just be able to sit or lie down. She required help to be able to walk or drive. She lost strength in her legs because she was not moving as she should.
As we get older, it’s important to keep moving as much as possible. As the old saying goes, use it or lose it. Moving helps us keep our independence. You don’t have to run marathons or power lifts. There are easy ways to strengthen your legs to stay mobile.
Even in one day, I can tell if I’ve been lazy on the couch all day. When I skip my workout, I feel weaker. Working out changes my attitude and helps me recover more quickly from injury.
Remember, before starting ANY kind of exercise, consult with your doctor to make sure they recommend it.
Remember if you feel pain, stop immediately. Try these leg strengthening exercises 3 times per week and within 4 weeks you should start seeing results. Ease into it, don’t rush your progress. Start with 10 reps and work your way up to 3 sets of 10 over time. I’m so excited that you are doing this! I can’t wait to hear all about your amazing results!
Hip strengthening exercises for seniors
This leg strengthening exercise helps you be able to walk farther and faster. It also helps you pick your feet up so you don’t trip over things.
- Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Sowly lift your left knee into the air as high as you can.
- Slowly lower back down to the ground.
- Do the same with your right knee.
This exercise is great for hip muscles and glutes which helps you stand and walk. Don’t arch your back when you do this to prevent injury.
- Stand up straight behind a chair, chest lifted, holding onto the back of it for balance.
- Slowly extend your left foot back as you keep your knee straightened. Your foot should stay at a right angle.
- Slowly switch sides, and do the same thing with the right foot.
Side Hip Raise
Keep your hips healthy and strong prevents osteoarthritis of the hips with these leg strengthening exercises.
- Stand up straight behind a chair, chest lifted, holding onto the back of it for balance. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Slowly lift your left leg to the side. Try to keep your foot in a right angle, toes pointing forward. Raise it as high as is comfortable for you. Do not bend your hips.
- Return your leg to the ground.
- Do the same with your opposite leg.
Thigh strengthening exercises for seniors
This exercise helps with standing, balancing, and walking. Start slowly and lunge more deeply as you build up your strength.
- Stand up straight, feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips.
- Slowly step forward with your left foot. Keep your torso standing up straight and your right foot planted.
- Slowly return your left foot to the starting position.
- Do the same thing with your right foot.
Sit to stand
This exercise is essential for leg and hip strength. It improves mobility and helps you get up and down to do everyday tasks. Repeat this exercise as often as you can to stay strong.
- Stand tall directly in front of the chair, the back of your knees touching the seat.
- Slowly lean forward and bend at your hips toward the chair. Stop before you sit down.
- Pause, then slowly raise yourself back into the standing position.
- If you have trouble stopping before the chair, you can sit down and then get up from there.
Straight Leg Raise
This exercise is good for your hips, abs, and thighs. They help tremendously with balance.
- Lay on your back on a mat. Make sure that your lower back is touching the floor.
- Start with your left knee bent with your left foot on the ground, while keeping your right leg straight. Keep your palms flat against the ground.
- Slowly raise your right leg (still straightened) to the height of your left knee. If possible, hold for 10 seconds.
- Slowly return your right leg to the starting position.
- Do the same thing with your left leg.
HIP ABDUCTIONS (LEG SIDEWAYS – STRAIGHT)
These leg strengthening exercises work your glutes and thighs for stronger and more steady walking.
- Stand with your feet close together and hold on to a chair.
- Slowly bring your leg out to the side bringing your feet back together.
- Ensure you keep your toes facing the front throughout this exercise.
- Don’t lean during this exercise or hitch your pelvis.
- Repeat with the other leg.
HIP EXTENSIONS (LEG BACKWARDS – STRAIGHT)
This exercise works your glutes and back of your thighs.
- Place both hands on your chair and stand up.
- Keep your legs straight and slowly bring it back behind you and then bring your feet back together.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
KNEE FLEXIONS (KNEE BACK BENDS)
These knee flexions work the back of the thighs.
- Stand up, hold onto a chair, with your feet close together.
- Bending your leg at the knee, lift your foot up towards your buttocks.
- Hold briefly and return your foot back to the ground.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
SEATED KNEE EXTENSIONS (KNEE STRAIGHTENS)
This exercise works the front of the thighs.
- Sit up with your shoulders back and down.
- Lift one leg up, extend at the knee.
- Hold briefly at the top of the movement, squeezing the muscles at the front of the thigh before lowering your leg back down.
- Ensure the movement is slow and controlled.
- Alternate legs, ensuring full knee extension (leg completely straight).
SEATED HIP ADDUCTIONS (THIGH SQUEEZES)
This exercise works your inner thighs.
- Sit up, in a chair, shuffle forward to the middle of the chair.
- In this position, using a cushion or a rolled up towel, place the item between your knees.
- Bring your feet in, ensuring they are in line with your knees.
- Squeeze the cushion using your knees.
- Hold this for 5 seconds and relax.
These important leg strengthening exercises focus on building up your ability to step up.
- Stand up straight at the bottom of the stairs. Hold onto the railing for support.
- Slowly step up with your right foot, firmly planting it fully on the step.
- Follow with your left foot.
- Slowly step back down with your right foot, then with your left.
- Do the same thing with your left foot pushing up first.
- Stand at the bottom of the stairs, turn your body 90 degrees to your right. Your feet should be parallel to the stairs. Your left foot should be right next to the bottom step. Hold onto the railing with your left hand.
- Slowly step your left foot onto the crevice of the first step, butting it up against the second step.
- Slowly step your right foot next to the left, then bring it back down to its starting position.
- Bring your left foot back down to the floor level.
- Switch sides.
- Stand beside a sturdy chair for balance support, if needed.
- Shift your body weight to your right leg, then step your left leg back.
- Keep your chest up as you bend your knees and sink straight down.
- Push yourself back up to standing, then step your left foot up beside your right.
- Alternate legs.
Single Leg Hip Hinge
- Stand and shift your weight to your right leg.
- Raise the heel of your left foot to point your left toes to the floor.
- With your hands on your hips or on a sturdy chair for balance support.
- Allow your right knee to bend slightly as you slowly hinge forward from the hips only hinge as far forward as is comfortable for you.
- Pull yourself up to stand.
- Repeat with each leg.
Knee Strengthening exercises for seniors with Bad knees
This exercise helps with knee rehabilitation and improves range of motion.
- Sit upin a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift and slowly straighten your left knee in front of you. Tilt your toes towards you as best you can. Hold for a few seconds.
- Slowly return your left foot to the ground.
- Do the same with your right knee.
Standing Knee Flexion
This exercise increases mobility in your knees.
- Stretch your hamstring for a few seconds before you begin.
- Stand up straight behind a chair, holding onto the back of it for balance.
- Slowly raise your left foot behind you, bending your knee backward. Try to bend your knee into a right angle, or as far as you comfortably can. Do not bend at the hips.
- Slowly return your left foot to standing flat on the ground.
- Do the same with your right foot.
- Stand and shift your weight to your right leg. Hold onto the back of a sturdy chair for balance support as you move through this exercise.
- Step your left foot forward, with your heel meeting the floor first, then the ball of your foot, then your toes.
- Sink straight down into a lunge position.
- Push yourself back up and tap your left foot back to center.
- Step your left foot behind you, meeting the floor toe-first.
- Sink straight down into a lunge.
- Step your left foot up beside your right.
- Repeat on other side.
- Stand with your feet spread apart at a comfortable distance.
- Raise your right knee up, then step your right foot down.
- Lift your left heel up toward your backside, then step down. You should feel your body weight shifting from side to side as you do this exercise.
- Repeat on the other side.
Calf strengthening exercises for seniors
Strengthening your calves is important for balance and walking. Getting the blood pumping up from your lower legs to your brain will help avoid you getting light-headed and prevent fainting.
- Stand behind a chair, holding onto it for balance. Keep your back straight.
- Slowly raise to your tip-toes as high as is comfortable for you. Try not to move the rest of your body.
- Lower slowly back down to your feet flat on the floor.
- Stand an arms-distance away from your chair for balance support, as needed.
- Step your left foot in front of your right, with your heel meeting the floor first, then the ball of your foot, then your toes. Your left heel should be touching your right toes.
- Step your right foot in front of your left. It should feel like you’re walking along a tight rope. After you’ve taken 3-5 steps forward, go back the other way.
- Step your left foot behind your right, meeting the floor with your toes first, then the ball of your foot, then your heel.
- Place a resistance band flat on the floor.
- Sit up at the front of your chair.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the resistance band and face your toes slightly outwards and keep your knees in line with your toes.
- Reach down and grab hold of your resistance band while maintaining your upright posture with your shoulders back and down and your chest up. Maintain straight arms while holding on and keep your shoulders back and down in good posture
- Stand up, just like the sit to stand exercise now holding onto the resistance band.
- Completely straighten your knees and hips and squeezing your buttocks when you come to the top of the movement.
- Slowly sit back down.
- Make sure your knees aren’t moving inward throughout the exercise.
Foot strengthening exercises for seniors
This is a great way to warm up the legs and feet.
- Sit in a chair in an upright position.
- Keep your left foot flat on the floor. Lift the right knee in the air and draw a circle with your right foot.
- Draw a circle with your right foot in the other direction.
- Perform the same exercise with the left foot.
This stretches the ankle, which gets the blood flow in your legs going.
- Stand up straight behind a chair, ribs lifted, hold onto the back of it for balance.
- Slowly rock back onto your heels, lifting your toes from the ground.
- Slowly lower your toes back flat on the ground
- Stand up straight behind a chair, ribs lifted, holding onto the back of it for balance.
These leg strengthening exercises are going to improve the quality of your life greatly and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I’m so excited for a safer and more mobile future for you! There’s no obstacle that you can’t overcome!
Also check out:
- If you’re struggling with arthritic knees and hips, check these exercises out!
- And see what the 5 worst foods to eat are for arthritis here.
- If you want to improve your balance, check these exercises out.
- And for more back strengthening exercises for seniors, check this out.
- Arm exercises for seniors
- Balance exercises for seniors
Now for a joke! I love my legs because they always stand up for me! Wakka Wakka!