How To Strengthen Your Lower Body With Squats · Parkinson's Resource Organization

How To Strengthen Your Lower Body With Squats

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Having the strength and ability to get up and down is very important.  A common challenge that I have seen with many of my older clients and people with Parkinson’s is that they say that it has become difficult for them to get up and down from a seated position whether it is up and down from a chair, toilet, in and out of a car, and especially a sofa that is low. I hope to give you some ideas to help you to be able to get up and down easier from a seated position if that is something you struggle with or want to prevent. Strengthening your muscles in your lower body can really help make getting up and down easier.

What Helps to Get Up and Down From a Sitting Position? Squats are a great exercise to strengthen your muscles in your legs, hips and thighs so you can get up and down easier from a seated position. Working these muscles two to three days a week can make a real difference in your ability to get up and down from a seated position.  

If for some reason the squats bother you or your knees don’t do them, there are other exercises you can do.  However, I am focusing on different ways of doing squats in this article.

Here are some different ways of doing squats that can help you to get up and down easier from a seated position. 

SQUAT - Stand in place with feet shoulder-width apart and squat down at a 45-degree angle as if you are sitting into a chair and then pushing your feet into the floor and stand up, extending your legs. Do a couple sets of 10 repetitions 2–3 days a week. Inhale as you squat down and exhale on effort as you stand up.

PARTIAL SQUAT - Stand in place with feet shoulder-width apart and squat down at a 45-degree angle as if you are sitting into a chair. Go down about halfway and then push your feet into the floor and stand up, extending your legs. Do these if you don’t feel strong enough to go down too far. Do a couple sets of 10 repetitions 2-3 days a week.  Inhale as you squat down and exhale on effort as you stand up.

ASSISTED SQUAT - Assisted squats are where you hold onto something like a dresser, counter, bar that you can hold onto, or the back of a sofa. While holding onto the bar lower yourself down at a 45-degree angle as if you were sitting in a chair and then stand up, extending your legs. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions 2-3 days a week. Inhale as you squat down and exhale on effort as you stand up.

ASSISTED PARTIAL SQUAT - Hold onto something and go down about halfway at a 45-degree angle to a point you feel comfortable and then stand up, extending your legs. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions 2-3 days a week. Inhale as you squat down and exhale on effort as you stand up.

What To Do to Strengthen Your Legs - If squats are a good exercise for you to do then figure out which one would be best for your situation. A freestanding squat would be great if you don’t need to hold on but if you do need to hold on an assisted squat would be great. If you can’t go down that far, then a partial squat is great for you.

Do two to three sets of 10–12 squats two to three times a week to gain strength in your lower body so you can get up and down easier from a seated position.

In Summary – In this article I went over how squats can help you to regain, maintain or improve your strength in your lower body so you can get up and down easier from a seated position. I have found that people who I’ve worked with increase their lower body strength.  It has made a tremendous difference in their quality of life.

They wind up getting up and down easier from a seated position. They are able to get in and out of the car easier. They are able to get up from a sofa which some of them weren’t able to do before they focused on increasing their lower body strength. They wind up not needing as much assistance or any from caregivers to get up and down. 

When a person strengthens their lower body, it makes it easier on the caregiver because the person who they’re taking care of has more strength. When a person is weak in their lower body it causes the caregiver at times to have to strain to get the person up. It can also lead to a person needing assistive devices to get up and down because they get so weak.

I encourage you strongly to strengthen your lower  body to help you get up and down easier from a seated position.  I went over squats to strengthen your lower body. Strengthening your hips is really important as well. Read this article to get some good exercise tips to help you improve your other muscles in your lower body. Strengthening your hips will help you also improve your balance by giving you more stability.

Jonathan Rose is very experienced working with people from mild to advanced stage Parkinson’s and will help you best manage your symptoms if you struggle with things like wanting to walk better because you’re shuffling, having a challenging time getting your body moving, deal with rigidity and want to loosen your muscles, have freezing episodes and want to know how to best manage them and prevent falling, you can get in touch with him by visiting his page in the Wellness Village at ParkinsonsResource.org/training-for-all-ages where he has been a member since February, 2022. Jonathan facilitates our Movement: Use It or Lose It Classes on Tuesday. Check the calendar on the back page.

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Updated: August 16, 2017