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7 Simple Leg Exercises for the Elderly

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

It’s important for elderly people to maintain their strength and mobility as much as possible. In particular, leg strength is crucial to help the elderly stay steady on their feet and avoid dangerous trips and falls.

But many popular leg exercises are too extreme for older people, who may experience conditions like osteoarthritis or diabetes-related nerve damage that make strenuous exercise painful or risky.

In this post, we’ll provide seven leg exercises for elderly people that are gentle and easy to do. You can start them gradually, practising the movement once or twice at first. Then add one more repetition every few days up to five or ten per day.

You don’t have to raise your leg far on any of these exercises. Just raising your foot a little off the floor is fine. To increase difficulty, hold the leg for a few seconds in a slightly raised position if that feels comfortable.

General tips on leg exercises for the elderly

Many of these elderly leg exercises are great for adding into a daily routine. For example, while you’re sitting down to do something else, you can practise one or two of our seated leg exercises.

For those who are hesitant to exercise because they have a fear of falling, gentle leg exercises for elderly people can strengthen the legs and lessen that fear. Fall alarms for the elderly can also provide reassurance because they’ll automatically detect when a person has fallen, so there’s no need to even press a button.

Some people purchase a leg exerciser for the elderly to help with strength building. However, the movements we’ll list here don’t require any equipment except the back of a chair to hold for balance.

Lastly, of course you shouldn’t try any exercises that make you feel unwell or in pain. And if you have chronic or serious health conditions, check with your doctor before starting an exercise regime.

Seated leg exercises for the elderly

Let’s start off with some great seated elderly leg exercises for people who may not want to exercise standing because they struggle with balance or worry about falling.

For these exercises, you’ll start with sitting upright in a firm chair like a dining chair. Begin with both feet flat on the floor, and don’t rest your weight on the back of the chair.

Seated knee lift

While sitting with legs bent normally, gently lift one knee up from the chair without straightening your leg. Then lower your leg again and repeat with the other leg.

Some people do this exercise continually for half a minute or more, which is then called seated marching. This movement is mimicked by a type of leg exerciser for the elderly that lets a person cycle their feet in a seated position.

Seated leg raise

Bend one knee to straighten your leg in front of you. Then slowly raise the straightened leg so that your heel is a few inches above the floor. Then slowly lower the leg again and repeat with the other side.

Standing from sitting

Start by sitting on the edge of your chair. Lean forward a little, then gradually stand without using your hands at all. Once you have stood up, slowly sit back down, still without using your arms or hands.

This is a great exercise to fit into your daily routine because it helps ensure that you’re able to stand up independently for as long as possible. Another step you can take when mobility is a concern is to get a 24/7 monitor alarm. This ensures that if a fall happens, help will be on hand whether it’s day or night.

Standing leg exercises for the elderly

For these exercises, you’ll start in a neutral, forward-facing standing position, and you’ll hold onto the back of a steady chair in front of you for safety and stability while you do the exercise.

Side leg raise

Without twisting your body, gently raise one straight leg to the side and then lower again. You don’t have to raise the leg far. Then repeat with the other leg.

If you are using a leg exerciser for the elderly, this exercise may be valuable to you because cycle-type exerciser devices don’t focus on the muscles at the side of the leg the way this exercise does.

Back leg raise with bent knee

While not moving your leg at the hip, bend one knee so that your lower leg and foot gently raise up behind you. Slowly lower again. Then do the same on the other side.

Back leg raise with straight leg

Keeping your leg straight, slowly raise your leg backward from the hip without bending your knee. Then lower the leg and repeat with your other leg. Again, you only need to raise your foot a little off the ground.

Moving leg exercises for the elderly

Ordinary, gentle walking is actually one of the best elderly leg exercises for those who can do it safely. A walk outdoors in the fresh air can also be great for mental health. If falling outside is a concern, a mobile alarm with GPS tracking is a great solution because if a fall is detected or the button is pressed, help will always be able to find where you are.

Sideways walking

In this exercise, you’ll start off in a standing position. First, take one step to the side. Then bring your other foot in to meet the first foot. Repeat so that you are stepping sideways across the room. Then step back across the room in the other direction.

You can do this exercise while holding someone’s hand for stability.

How SureSafe personal alarms can help keep you moving

Older people often experience muscle weakness that can make it difficult to continue moving safely. But leg exercises for elderly people can help, and a SureSafe alarm can also provide peace of mind so that if a fall does happen, help will be with you no matter where you are or what time of day it is.

SureSafe’s five-star reviews are a testament to the quality of our easy-to-use and affordable devices, including pendant alarms that let you talk directly to our 24/7 response centre or call family or friends for help at just the touch of a button. To chat with us about how SureSafe can help you or a loved one stay mobile, call our customer service team at 0800 112 3201 or use our easy form to request a call back. Alternatively, get in touch via our live chat.

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