If seniors want to stay mobile for as long as possible, they need strong, limber muscles. Because the legs represent the largest muscle group, leg exercises should be an important component of any senior’s fitness regimen. Here are five leg exercises ideal for aging adults.
1. Modified Squats
Squats strengthen muscles throughout the legs and core, including the quadriceps, the glutes, the hips, and the back. When these muscles are strong, the body is better equipped to support itself and less prone to injury. Active seniors may be able to perform standard squats with the feet shoulder-width apart. From this standing position, seniors should bend the knees and push the hips back, engaging their core throughout. If more support is needed to perform squats, a stability ball can be used, and it should be placed between the back and a wall.
If you’re the primary caregiver for your loved one, your schedule may make it challenging to make sure he or she sticks to a regular exercise routine. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Des Moines respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities.
2. Hip Bridges
When seniors want to get off their feet, they can still work their leg muscles with the help of hip bridges. This exercise targets the glutes and the hips, and it’s especially effective for seniors with tight hip joints. When performed repeatedly, hip bridges open the hips and increase flexibility in the area. To perform hip bridges, seniors should start by lying down on their backs. The knees should be bent and the feet should be on the ground, then they should squeeze the glute muscles and press the hips upward, hold for a few seconds, then release the hips back to the ground.
3. Side Leg Circles
Side leg circles are another great leg exercise that can be performed on the ground. This exercise focuses on the muscles and joints of the hips, and it strengthens and loosens this often-injured area. To perform this exercise, seniors should lie down on one side. To support the head, they can use their bottom arm or a pillow. Then they should stabilize the body by clenching the abdominal muscles, and lift the top leg a few inches off the ground. For a full rep, seniors should perform clockwise and counterclockwise circles on both sides.
Many aging adults benefit from professional assistance with their exercise routines. Des Moines elder care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
4. Stationary Lunges
Seniors may not want to try explosive jump lunges, which combine leg strengthening with cardio activity. However, most seniors should be able to perform stationary lunges, which have the muscle-boosting benefits of lunges and are safer on the knees. To properly perform a lunge—which works the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps—seniors should start by placing one foot behind the other. The heel in the back should be off the floor, and the front foot should be bearing most of the weight. Once stable, they should slowly bend the front knee until it forms a 90-degree angle with the floor.
5. Power Walking
Seniors don’t have to do specific exercises to strengthen their legs. For inactive seniors, getting off the couch and getting moving is often the best first step. Power walking increases muscular strength throughout the legs and core, as multiple leg muscles are engaged with each step. It also offers cardiovascular benefits.
For seniors who find exercising on their own challenging, assistance is just a phone call away. Des Moines home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.