Leg Strength Longevity and Aging in Place

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

I will not retire while I’ve still got my legs and my make-up box.

~ Bette Davis


Aging in Place

When you think about it, longevity and aging in place define each other. Living a long life is often associate with living at home, the statistics bear this out:

Only 0.46% (roughly 1.5 million) people live in nursing homes in America.

Around 0.21% (1 million) of elderly adults live in assisted living facilities in the U.S.

Women account for a whopping 70% of all nursing home residents.

Men only make up 30% of nursing home residents.

(Source: simplyinsurance.com)

Given these numbers its evident most older adults are living in communities and non-institutional settings. What is not so obvious is the strong correlation between longevity, brain health, aging in place successfully, and leg strength.

The strength of your legs has been found to be a very strong predictor of your longevity, both how long you will live and the quality of life as you age (ourovitae.com).

In my own experience of “informal caregiving” I can tell you, the point when older adult’s legs give out– they can no longer support their own body weight, that is often the turning point to either early institutionalization or death. It may not happen suddenly, but the level of needed care goes up exponentially, and the end is near. It usually starts with a series of falls and quickly deteriorates.I’ve known this by painful personal experience, watching loved ones no longer be able to ambulate is heart-breaking. I did my best to extend their quality of life on wheels–but it seemed to be a series of new normals with the bar lowered each month. That’s not to say life is over, it’s just different and in danger of ending sooner.

The literature is robust on the association with leg strength and longevity, so without going into too much detail here, I suggest if you need more evidence see the reference links. My main message here is this–successful aging, as well as successful aging-in-place, is highly dependent on leg strength. I suggest you include leg strengthening into your aging in place strategy. Begin with loved ones, then adopt it into your life if you haven’t already.


Muscle Mass, Strength, and Longevity (non-affiliate)

Leg Strength Is an Indicator of Longevity–Here Are 4 Moves To Help Strengthen Yours

Simple leg exercise to start:

  1. Alternating Knee Lifts
  2. Squats
  3. Lunges
  4. Calf Raises
  5. Side Hip Raises
  6. Knee Extensions
  7. Knee Curls
  8. Leg Balance (Stork test)
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