Stronger Legs Mean More Independence

Man prepares for leg workout

One of the most common complaints about getting older is getting weaker. When you turn 30, your body starts to slowly lose muscle mass. Generally, you don’t feel it until your late 50s or 60s, when the rate of loss rapidly accelerates. Then a vicious cycle begins. We feel weak, so we become sedentary. Inactivity makes the problem worse and creates a debilitating cycle. In other words, use it or lose it.

A lack of mobility could severely affect your quality of life, make you more susceptible to falls, and lead to a loss of independence. It becomes more difficult to climb the stairs, walk around the block, even get up off the couch. The good news is there is something we can all do about it. We can rebuild the muscle through strength training, particularly though working our legs.

There are multiple muscle groups involved in standing up, walking, and keeping your balance—calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps in your legs along with various muscles in your lower torso.

Here are a few leg exercises that will get you started and will strengthen these muscles using your own body weight at home.

Leg Lifts
Sitting in a sturdy straight-backed chair, simply straighten you legs and lift them up slowly. Hold them in front of them for as long as you can without hurting your back. Lower them, then repeat.

Toe Lifts
With your hand on a chair or other stable table-height surface, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now push up on the balls of your feet as high as you can. Hold for two second, then lower your heels to the floor.

Walk up and down the stairs several times a day will build up the muscles in the front and back of your legs. Make sure you use the handrail to prevent fails and help with fatigue.

If you belong to a gym, other good strength training exercises include:

  • Leg presses
  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls

Remember to strengthen all the major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. This will also improve your overall health, mobility, and keep you independent. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults work out two or more days a week. StrongPath recommends that you talk with your doctor before you begin any exercise regime.

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