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10 Leg Strengthening Exercises For 55+

Leg exercises are some of the most important exercises seniors must do for their health and well-being. As we age, our muscle mass and strength[1] reduce, affecting our mobility and balance. This makes older adults much more susceptible to falls and injuries[2]. 

Leg strengthening exercises help improve our balance and posture at any age, and give us the confidence to take on life as it comes. Regular exercise also improves energy levels, weight management, brain functioning, and mood[3].

Here are ten easy leg strengthening exercises for seniors that you can do at home. Check them out!

 

10 Best Leg Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

Here are ten low-impact leg exercises that you can do two or three times a week. 

It’s best to do a warmup first and then start with 10 to 12 repetitions for each exercise for seniors. Increase the reps gradually, up to 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps once you ease into the exercise routine. 

 

1. Squats 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Muscles worked: Hips, buttocks (glutes), thighs (quadriceps), carves, cores, and back

How To:

  • Stand tall and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Your feet should turn out between 5 and 30 degrees, depending on your mobility and comfort level.
  • Keep your chest up. Hold onto a chair or the end of a sofa with both your hands for balance.
  • Bend at the hips and sit back like you would on a chair.
  • Make sure you do not go deeper than 90 degrees as you sit back.
  • Distribute your weight across both legs.
  • Your knees should not go over your toe line and should not move inward as you squat.
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times.

 

2. Partial Squats 

Difficulty: Easy

Muscles worked: Hips, quadriceps, glutes, and lower back

How To:

  • Stand up straight behind a chair.
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and your shoulder blades and ribs lifted.
  • Hold onto the chair with both hands and inhale.
  • Exhale as you bend at the hips and sit back as you would on a chair. Keep your upper body straight as you drop down.
  • Distribute your weight on both legs.
  • Go down to about 45 degrees. Inhale, and stand back up. 
  • Your knees must not cross your toe line and must not move inward while you’re doing the exercise.
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times.

 

3. Sit-To-Stand 

Difficulty: Easy to moderate 

Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, hips, calves, core, and back

How To:

  • Stand straight in front of a chair. The back of your knees should touch the seat. 
  • Inhale as you slowly bend forward and hinge at the hips toward the chair. Stop before you sit down.
  • Pause and exhale as you return to the standing position slowly.
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times.

 

4. Reverse Lunge 

Difficulty: Hard  

Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, hips, calves, core, and back

How To:

  • Stand tall and place your hands on a chair. 
  • Take a long step backward with your left foot.
  • Bring your body down and bend your right knee at 90 degrees.
  • Lower your left knee at 90 degrees as well.
  • Push back up and go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times on each side.

 

 

5. Calf Raises 

Difficulty: Easy  

Muscles worked: Calves

How To:

  • Stand tall behind a chair with your feet about hip-width apart. 
  • Hold onto the back of the chair and keep your back and knees straight. 
  • Inhale as you slowly raise your heels off the floor and stand on your tiptoes.
  • Exhale as you slowly lower yourself back down.
  • Repeat 10 times.

 

6. Seated Knee Extension 

Difficulty: Easy  

Muscles worked: Quads

How To:

  • Sit up straight in a chair with your shoulders back. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale as you slowly lift and straighten one knee in front of you. Tilt your toes towards your body and hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Exhale as you slowly lower your foot back to the ground. 
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat this exercise for seniors with your other knee.

 

7. Hip Marching 

Difficulty: Easy  

Muscles worked: Quads and hips

How To:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale as you slowly lift your left knee as high as you can.
  • Exhale as you slowly return your foot to the ground. 
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat the exercise with your right knee.

 

8. Heel Stand 

Difficulty: Easy  

Muscles worked: Calves and ankles 

How To:

  • Stand up straight behind a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart and ribs lifted.
  • Hold onto the back of the chair. 
  • Exhale as you slowly lift your toes from the ground and rock back onto your heels.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your toes back on the ground.
  • Repeat 10 times.

 

9. Straight Leg Raise 

Difficulty: Moderate  

Muscles worked: Quads, hips, and abdominal muscles

How To:

  • Place a mat on the floor and lie down. Your lower back must touch the floor. 
  • Place your palms flat against the floor. Bend your left knee while keeping your left foot flat. Keep your right leg straight. 
  • Inhale as you slowly raise your right leg as high as you can, ideally to the height of your left knee. Make sure your right leg remains straight while doing so. Hold this position for a few seconds. 
  • Exhale as you lower your right leg back to the ground.
  • Repeat 10 times. 
  • Now do the exercise with your left leg.

 

 

10. Standing Hip Extension 

Difficulty: Easy  

Muscles worked: Hips and glutes

How To:

  • Stand tall behind a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart and ribs lifted.
  • Hold onto the back of the chair for balance.
  • Inhale as you slowly move your left foot back while your knee remains straight. Your foot should be tilted at a right angle. 
  • Exhale as you slowly bring back your left foot to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat the exercise with your right foot.

 

Conclusion

These ten simple exercises can help strengthen your legs and maintain your balance day in and day out.

We hope you have fun trying out the exercises on this list. If you can do all of them with ease, you can add resistance bands or light dumbbells to increase the level of difficulty. 

If any of the exercises on this list cause any type of pain or discomfort, stop doing it immediately. These exercises are meant to strengthen your body and make your muscles less susceptible to pain. Do not push your body beyond its limit. Opt for another type of exercise or take a break if it hurts.

Do you have any other suggestions for leg exercises that you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Citations

  1. Karsten Keller and Martin Engelhardt, 2013, Strength and muscle mass loss with aging process: Age and strength loss. Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal

http://www.mltj.online/strength-and-muscle-mass-loss-with-aging-process-age-and-strength-loss/ 

  1. Berg RL and Cassells JS, 1992, The Second Fifty Years: Promoting Health and Preventing Disability. Institute of Medicine (US) Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235613/  

  1. Ashish Sharma, M.D., Vishal Madaan, M.D., and Frederick D. Petty, M.D., Ph.D., 2006, Exercise for Mental Health. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/ 

 

References

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