Being able to stand up requires strength throughout your body, but especially in your legs. From your toes to your buttocks, multiple muscle groups are at work to support your body weight. Your calf muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps -- muscle groups in the back and front of your thigh, must be strong to aid standing up. Balance also comes into play when standing. Leg muscle exercises that improve balance and strengthen your legs can make standing easier.
Core exercises are those that strengthen your hips, pelvis, lower back and stomach. Strong core muscles are crucial to stability and balance when standing as well as while engaging in sports or simply walking. An example of a core exercise that also strengthens your leg muscles is the single-leg abdominal press. Lie on your back with your knees bent and soles of your feet flat on the ground. Pick up your leg with the knee still bent so that your leg and hip form a 90-degree angle with your body. Tighten your stomach muscles and push down on your knee with your hand. As you push on your knee, use the force of your body to push back against your hand with your leg. Hold for three seconds before releasing. Perform 10 repetitions with each leg.
Balance exercises are especially useful for older adults to help reduce falls, but people of all ages can benefit from them. Standing on one foot and balancing for several seconds at a time improves balance, stability and strength in your legs. Hold on to a chair with your fingertips for support if needed. Lift one leg, bending it at the knee so your foot no longer touches the floor. Hold the position for 10 seconds before putting your foot back on the ground. Practice this balance and leg exercise 10 to 15 times with each leg.
Lunges and Squats
Lunges and squats are two types of exercises that work several muscle groups in your legs, including the thighs, calves, hips and gluteal muscles in your buttocks. When you perform a lunge or a squat, you are essentially tensing your leg muscles while in a standing position, making them stronger to aid in standing. To perform a lunge, take a step so that one foot is about a shoulder's width in front of the other. Bend the knee of your front leg at a 90-degree angle. Your back leg's knee will also be bent; keep it from touching the ground as you balance. Hold for several seconds, keeping your hips and back straight. Squats target most of the same muscles but give your calves more of a stretch. Keep your back straight and bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. Your knees should be directly over your toes. Lean against a wall or hold hands with a partner facing you if needed for support.
Yoga and Tai Chi
The ancient arts of yoga and tai chi incorporate gentle, flowing movements with strength and flexibility to tone and strengthen your body and mind. According to the National Institutes on Aging, older adults who practice tai chi have improved balance and a lower risk of falls. Many yoga poses develop significant strength in the legs, such as the warrior pose. The tree pose, described as tucking the sole of your foot as far into your inner thigh and groin as possible, hones your balance for standing on one leg while stretching your hips, pelvis and hamstrings.
- Familydoctor.org: Exercise and Seniors
- National Institute on Aging: Tai Chi for Older People Reduces Falls, May Help Maintain Strength
- National Institute on Aging: Sample Exercise: Balance
- Yoga Journal: The Long and Short of Legs
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: Exercises to Improve Your Core Strength
- MayoClinic.com: Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
- American Council on Exercise: Upper Leg Exercises
- Yoga Journal: Warrior II Pose
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.