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5 Essential Leg Exercises For Seniors To Stay Active & Improve Leg Circulation

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in August of 2023. For the original video go to

Brad: Welcome everyone. We did a video, which is very popular about strengthening the arms. So, upon popular request, we are doing one on essential leg strengthening.

Mike: For each of these exercises, start with 10 repetitions and do it 3 days a week. For example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Take a day off in between. Over the weeks, gradually build up the amount of repetitions you do. Now the first exercise is squats for beginners. I'm going to demonstrate on a chair, so use your arms as needed to push and stand up and try to slowly control yourself as you're going back down. We do not want you falling into the chair. Once this becomes easy, you can cross your arms and squat this way. This is going to strengthen your legs a lot more.

Brad: Now, the big benefit of this exercise is it's using a lot of muscle groups, large muscles like the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the hip muscles, which are really going to help that circulation throughout the legs, which is another benefit and goal we're looking for. For those people who feel like doing the squat is very easy and they want a little more resistance, using the bands works very well. They're a lot cheaper than buying a barbell. You simply stand on them, bring them up to your shoulders, and simply do your squats. Notice I have good posture. I'm looking up, my back is straight and arched, and do 5 to 10 of those. You can vary the resistance. I have two bands on. You'll probably start with one, but you can go up to three actually, so good luck with that. Let's go to the second exercise.

Mike: The second exercise is standing hip abduction. I'm going to show the beginner variation. Brad will get into the advanced variation. To begin, I'm going to hold onto something for support. You can do this at a countertop or Booyah Stik. I'm simply going to kick my leg out to the side and bring it back in. Notice my body is staying completely vertical. I am not leaning over. Also, notice my leg and foot are not rotating out to the side as I'm going out. Have a slight bend in the knee that is stationary and you're actually going to get your hip abductors worked on both sides. Make sure to repeat on the opposite side.

Brad: Good job, Mike. I do want to mention the leg that is weight-bearing really gets the best workout. All right, and for those of you who find that what Mike showed was a little easy, you want to have an advanced version. You take bands like we just used for our squats and you stand on them. You probably start with one band instead of two like I have. Now, you have to have your shoes on with this and pull up. The more you pull up, the more resistance you get, and the more difficult it will be. I'm going to go sideways. Take your time with this. Get used to it. You will definitely feel more strain. You're going to go over approximately 10 feet to the left and then go back 10 feet to the right. As you get stronger, you can spread that 10 feet out to 15, 20 feet, or whatever you feel comfortable with. Don't overdo it the first day though because it really is a big difference from doing it without the bands. Good luck and we're going on to number three.

Mike: The next exercise is a two-for-one deal. You're going to do them at a countertop or hold onto a rail of a stair or a cane of sorts. To begin, we're going to bring this leg forward. Notice I'm keeping my leg straight. I'm keeping my posture nice and upright. I am controlling my leg through this whole motion and I'm going to shoot for 10 repetitions. I'm not just aimlessly kicking.

Mike: Now the next direction we're going to do is backward. I'm going to switch profiles so you can see this easier. Again, I'm going to kick straight back, no bent knee, nice and straight, nice upright posture. Do not bend over. Just go with what motion feels comfortable for you and again, do 10 repetitions. So you're going to work the front of your hip with the first exercise and this one you're going to work the back of your hip.

Brad: Great job. Good job explaining, Mike. Yeah, this really does work those hip flexors and extensors. In the advanced mode, you're going to use a resistance band. Now, when you get these bands, you get a set of five bands and it comes with a door anchor as well as a Velcro strap to go around your ankle. The door anchor will go into the door and you'll close it. I'm going to use the wall anchor. It just works out better. We have them set up here. I have this one already on my ankle and I'm simply going to use the wall anchor. It works very easily. You may need something to balance, you can hold onto the wall or a stick or a cane. Now I'm going to do the same motions Mike did. My leg will be straight and this really makes a big difference. If I take a step backward, this really reduces the resistance. As you get stronger, simply walk away from the wall and work that. I'm not flailing around, keep a solid posture up top and work that hip.

Brad: Simply turn around and work extension in the same manner that Mike mentioned, with good control and not letting the band control you, you control the band. 10 repetitions on the side. You will definitely feel that work. This really gets that blood moving. It is going to get that blood flow up because of the muscle contraction.

Brad: All right, number four, we're going to work the legs and the hips altogether, and it's simple marching. If you're a beginner or you feel like this is adequate, we're going to do this for a goal of 60 seconds.

Brad: Now when this becomes easier, we're going to add something to it with resistance. You can take your resistance band that is made with handles and simply make a loop out of it. There are loop bands if you have those. Mike is going to use the large loop bands. Now, if you use the regular resistance band method, you're going to use the door anchor and put it into the door at about waist level or a little higher. Mike is going to demonstrate with the wall anchor.

Mike: So with the wall anchor or the door, simply walking further away is going to be more resistance. Closer is less resistance. Again, we're just going to march in place for a minute. Go at what speed is comfortable for you. You don't have to run and do high knees, just go nice, slow, and controlled, and as I go further away it's more and more tension. This kind of works on your balance as well as your strength.

Brad: Good point. Now, if this feels easy and you want a little more work, you simply turn 90 degrees. This is the real beauty of using the loop bands with the anchor system and then you go back. This way, you're working muscles on the front, on the back, on the sides of your hips as well as your core is getting worked as well. Great for circulation in the legs as it will become actually aerobic if you go for the full 60 seconds. If 60 seconds is too long, go to 15 or 30 seconds and build up. Nice work Mike.

Mike: And the last exercise, we're going to work on the ankle, so we're going to get the front muscles and the back calf muscles. In order to do this, you're going to simply go up on our toes, and then we're going to rock back on our heels. Notice I'm having support. This is how beginners can start. If you can't do this standing, you can certainly do it seated in a chair. I'm going to shoot for 10 repetitions in each direction and work on my balance. Brad has an advanced version.

Brad: I just want to mention, that you can also put your hands on the cupboard or a sink for better support. In the advanced version, we're going to use the bands again on the lowest wall anchor. You can put it on the door anchor, at the bottom of the door. We'll use it here with the wall anchor. Just bring the band up to your shoulders and that's all you do is anchor this band at your shoulders. This gives you resistance going up on the toes and then back on the heels. This is advanced, so only do it if you really feel comfortable doing it. This really works those muscles in the calves and the anterior tip. If you do have some mild swelling in that area, that muscle contraction is going to help pump that fluid and that blood up where it needs to go. This is a nice one, Mike. I really enjoy this one. Good balance.

Mike: Glad you're having fun.

Brad: All right, my legs are nicely fatigued and yours will be as well. Now, after doing this for a little bit, you'll be able to do it within five minutes and then if you combine that with the arm video, you're going to have a complete body workout.

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