01 September, 2011
Leg Workout for Older Women
Strengthening the legs is especially important for an older woman. Women are at an increased risk of developing certain conditions such as osteoporosis -- fragility of the bones -- with age. Maintaining your leg muscles not only strengthens your bones but also increases balance, which can become harder with age. For aging women, having good balance and strong muscles and bones means independent living.
Walk for Bone Strength
Achieve a good leg workout as well as aerobic benefits through walking. Walking is a weight-bearing aerobic exercise, so it strengthens your bones. It also supports your heart, lungs and leg muscles and bones. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends elderly women do 30 minutes of accumulated aerobic activity most days of the week. Resistance exercises require a warm-up to ease into the exercise and prevent injury. Walking is an effective way to warm up for the rest of your leg exercises.
Stand Up For Strength
The sit to stand exercise is an effective way for older women to maintain the strength in their legs. Begin by sitting in a chair, preferably a solid chair with arms. Sit on the edge so that your knees are bent and your feet are flat on the floor. Either position your hands across your chest or use your arms on the chair to help yourself up. In one fluid motion, rise off the chair, stand for a moment, and then lower yourself back into the chair and repeat. Work toward using only your legs for this exercise and keeping your hands across your chest during both the upward and downward movements.
Build Your Thighs
Leg raises work your thighs and can even help reduce arthritic pain, according to the National Institute on Aging. Start by sitting in a chair with your back against the back of the seat. Position a rolled towel beneath your thighs so that the balls of your feet are the only part touching the floor. In a slow and controlled motion, lift your leg up by straightening your knee, hold this position for a second, then lower it. Try to do this exercise 10 to 15 times per side.
Curl to Tone Your Hamstrings
The leg curl exercise works your hamstring muscles, which are in the back of your upper legs. Begin by standing behind a sturdy chair for support. Place both hands on the back of the chair and lift one foot off the floor. Slowly curl your lifted foot behind you so that your foot approaches your buttocks. The knee of the leg supporting your weight should be slightly bent. Lower your foot back down and repeat. Try to do 10 to 15 repetitions per side. This exercise will help you maintain your balance and ease in activities like walking up the steps.
Target Your Calves With Raises
The calf raise exercise helps with walking and maintains the strength of your ankle joints, which adds to your balance. Stand behind a chair with your feet slightly apart. Hold your hands on the back of the chair for support. Slowly push yourself up onto your toes. Hold for a second, then lower yourself to your starting position. Try to do 10 to 15 repetitions.
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; Mitchell H. Whaley, Ph.D., et al.; 2006
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: Exercise for Healthy Bones
- Elder Gym.com: Sit to Stand
- "Your Everyday Guide: Exercise and Physical Activity"; National Institute on Aging; 2009
- michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images