Many factors can cause leg weakness. They can include the loss of muscle strength from inactivity, pinched nerves or spinal compression of sciatica, neuromuscular diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and certain medications. The National Institute on Aging recommends simple exercises performed at least twice a week to strengthen weak legs. Even small gains in leg strength can make a big difference in everyday life -- getting out of a chair, climbing stairs and carrying groceries will be easier. Improved balance is another benefit.
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Stand behind a chair with your feet slightly apart. Hold the back of the chair for balance and breathe in. As you breathe out, lift one leg to the side and hold it out for one second. Slowly lower the leg. Your back should remain straight and toes should point forward as you perform these leg lifts. Keep the leg on which you are standing slightly bent. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch to the other leg. The side leg raise strengthens your hips, thighs and buttocks.
Hold the chair and lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out as you bend your knee and slowly bring your heel up toward your buttocks as far as you can. Your hips should not move, and the leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. Hold the position for one second, then lower your foot to the floor as you breathe in. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch to the other leg. The knee curl will help make walking and climbing stairs easier.
Sit in the chair with your back against the back rest. Rest the balls of your feet and your toes on the floor. Take a deep breath. Breathe out and slowly extend one leg in front of you as straight as possible. Don't lock your knee. Flex your foot and point your toes toward the ceiling. Hold for one second. Breathe in and lower your leg. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch to the other leg. This leg-straightening exercise strengthens your thighs and may help reduce the symptoms of arthritis in the knee.
Sit toward the front of the chair with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Cross your hands over your chest and lean back. Keep your back and shoulders straight. Breathe in as you lean back and breathe out as you go forward again. Sitting upright, extend your arms so they are parallel to the floor. Slowly stand up. Breathe in as you slowly sit down. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. The chair stand strengthens your abdomen and thighs, making it easier to get in and out of the car.
Stand behind the chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the back for balance. Breathe in. Breathe out and slowly stand on your tiptoes as high as you can. Hold this position for one second. Breathe in and slowly lower your heels to the floor. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. As you progress, try doing the exercise standing on one leg at a time. Do 10 to 15 times on each leg. The toe stand will strengthen your calves and ankles, which will make walking easier.