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To get the most out of your stretches, warm up first with a 5-minute walk. To stretch, lie down, loop a bed sheet around your right foot, and use the sheet to help pull the straight leg up and stretch it. Hold for 20 seconds, then lower the leg. Repeat twice. Then, switch legs.
To do a calf stretch, hold onto a chair for balance. Bend your right leg. Step back with your left leg, and slowly straighten it behind you. Press your left heel toward the floor. You should feel the stretch in the calf of your back leg. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat twice, then switch legs.
Lie on the floor, upper body supported by your elbows. Bend your left knee, foot on the floor. Keep the right leg straight, toes pointed up. Tighten your thigh muscles and raise your right leg. Pause for 3 seconds. Keep your thigh muscles tight and slowly lower your leg to the ground. Touch and raise again. Do two sets of 10 repetitions. Switch legs after each set.
Sit up straight in a chair. Kick your left foot back slightly, but keep your toes on the floor. Lift your right foot off the floor, knee bent. Hold the right leg in the air for 3 seconds. Slowly lower your foot to the ground. Do two sets of 10 repetitions. Switch legs after each set. Too hard? Use your hands to help lift your leg.
This move helps strengthen the inside of your legs to better support your knees. Lie on your back, both knees bent. Place a pillow between the knees. Squeeze your knees together, squishing the pillow between them. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Do two sets of 10 repetitions. Too hard? You can also do this exercise while seated.
Stand tall and hold the back of a chair for support. Lift your heels off the ground and rise up on the toes of both feet. Hold for 3 seconds. Slowly lower both heels to the ground. Do two sets of 10 repetitions. Too hard? Do the same exercise while sitting in a chair.
Practice this move to make standing easier. Place two pillows on a chair. Sit on top with your back straight, feet flat on the floor. Use your leg muscles to slowly and smoothly stand up tall. Then slowly lower again to sit. Be sure your bent knees don’t move forward of your toes. Try with your arms crossed or loose at your sides. Too hard? Add pillows. Or use a chair with armrests and help push up with your arms.
Stand in front of stairs and, holding onto the banister for balance, place your left foot on a step. Tighten your left thigh muscle and step up, touching your right foot to the step. Keep your muscles tight as you slowly lower your right foot. Touch the floor and lift again. Do two sets of 10 repetitions. Switch legs after each set.
Even if you have stiff or sore knees, walking may be a great exercise. Start slow and keep at it. Walking can ease joint pain, strengthen leg muscles, improve posture (stand tall when you walk), and improve flexibility. It’s also good for your heart. If you’re not active, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.