Just because you've turned the big 6-0 doesn't mean you should throw in the workout towel. While your body may be different than it was in your 20s, it's still a powerful instrument that can be used to help maintain your active lifestyle. By taking good care of your body through proper diet and exercise, including lower-body leg workouts, you can enjoy better overall health at 60 and beyond.
Working the Legs
While working out your total body is important, there are specific benefits to lower-body training. According to physical therapist Doug Schrift, leg exercises are a vital part of senior fitness and are one of the most effective methods of preserving a woman's independence and improving her total health. Strength exercises improve lean muscle mass, reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease, improve bone health, help lower cholesterol, improve glucose tolerance and increase lower back strength.
A number of leg exercises can be done from your chair. These will help you build the strength of your lower body without putting excess strain on your lower back or putting you at a high risk for injury. From your chair you can perform exercises such as ankle circles, hip marches and knee extensions. You can also exercise your calves by extending one leg at a time and pointing and flexing your foot.
From a standing position you can do a variety of leg exercises that build your muscles and also help you strengthen your bones. Partial squats and lunges are excellent moves for quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors, while hip extensions and side hip raises help keep your joints and stabilizers working properly. For most of these exercises, you can use a chair for support, but it's important to resist resting all of your weight on the chair as this decreases the effectiveness of the exercise.
Tips and Cautions
When doing leg exercises, it's important to focus on health and safety. Perform each move with proper form and move slowly through each exercise. Always clear any new exercises with your doctor before you begin, and discontinue any move that causes unusual pain. Aim for two leg-strengthening sessions per week and keep a workout log to record your progress. Once you develop your strength, ask your doctor for permission to add light weight to the exercises to boost the positive results.