Exercise makes people feel better at any age, but the elderly veterans can really benefit from strengthening their lower body. Reduced muscle tone, illness, injury and more can make seniors feel weaker than they need to. Also, a stronger lower body can help them avoid slip and fall accidents and stay more mobile in their homes and in the community.
Ideally, lower body exercises should help elderly veterans develop strength in the legs and lower back, increase flexibility in the hips and knees and increase their ability to bend and reach. Senior fitness exercises don’t even need to take place at a gym or health center because many of them can be performed at home with the help of a family member or elderly care aide.
Here are 4 outstanding lower body exercises specifically designed to help the elderly:
Strong legs are the key to avoiding falls and instability. Sit with the back straight and the feet set together on the floor. Lift the right foot up and out, holding it extended for one second. Slowly set the right foot back on the floor. Then lift the left foot up and out, holding for one second. Repeat 10 times for each leg. Every week, add a few more leg lifts to increase stamina and strength.
This exercise can be done anywhere with a sturdy chair with a tall enough back. Stand behind the chair and place the right hand on the back of the chair. Place the left hand on the hip. Lift up the right leg at the knee and hold it for 10 seconds. Lower the right leg again. Repeat 10 times. Switch the hands (left on chair, right on hip) and lift the left leg. Hold for 10 seconds, and lower it again. Repeat 10 times. Elderly veterans should notice an improvement in their balance over time and as they get stronger, they can even add ankle weights.
With this exercise, the calf, ankle and foot muscles will get a workout. Stand behind a sturdy backed chair and grasp it with both hands. Stand up on the balls of the feet and hold for 1 second. Lower the heels down to the floor and rest. Repeat 10 times. As the calf muscles develop, seniors should try increasing the number of repetitions each week.
Getting up and down from a chair, a toilet seat or a car seat can be one of the most challenging activities for elderly veterans. Chair stand-ups help them develop a strong core as well as boost leg muscles. Sit in a sturdy chair arm rests. Place a firm pillow at the back to avoid sinking back into the chair. Sit upright, grasp the arm rests, and stand up while using the armrests as little as possible. Fully stand then sit back down. Avoid falling back into the chair—instead use the legs and hips to control the seating motion. Repeat standing and sitting 5 times, growing less dependent on the arm rests. The goal is to be able to stand and sit without much support.
When elderly veterans participate in lower body exercises, they will experience the overall benefits of increased strength and health. Even if they haven’t been very physically active until now, there’s no better time to begin. They just need to start slowly and build up to more repetitions and eventually more challenging activities. Before beginning a new exercise program, veterans should consult with their doctor as part of their elderly care program to make sure the activities are appropriate for their conditions and needs.