knee strengthening for seniors

6 Simple and Effective Knee Exercises for Seniors

Of all the joints in your body, your knees take the most abuse. Knee aches and pains are common as you age, but the right exercises can help keep them as healthy and limber as possible.

Losing weight can help, too, as every pound lost takes away four pounds of pressure on your knees.

The following knee exercises can be performed in your home and with a chair. If you have mobility issues, bring along a partner to help you through some of the more difficult moves.

1. Knee Straightening

Knee straightening is a simple exercise that can be performed on a chair. The movements performed in this exercise will help not only strengthen your knees, but your hips as well.

To get started, you’ll need to sit down in a chair with both feet flat on the floor.

  • Exhale as you straighten your left leg.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Inhale as you lower down to the starting position.
  • Exhale as you straighten your right leg.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Inhale as you lower down to the starting position.

Make sure your movements are smooth and slow. The goal is not to move as fast as possible, but to maintain proper form throughout the entire exercise.

To make this exercise more challenging, try wearing ankle weights. Start with two to five pounds, and work your way up (if necessary) to higher weights for more strength.

2. Knee Curl

Knee curls will help strengthen your knees while improving flexibility. For this exercise, you will also need a chair to help you safely stay balanced.

To perform this exercise:

  • Stand with your front facing the back of a chair. Place your hands on the chair to maintain your balance.
  • Place your feet hip-distance apart.
  • Shift your weight over to your left leg, and keep your knee slightly bent.
  • Exhale as you bend your right knee, and raise your right foot towards your buttocks.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your right leg back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times on your right leg.
  • Repeat 10-15 times on your left leg.

Make sure that your knee is slightly bent on the weight-bearing leg to prevent further knee injury.

Adding ankle weights will make this exercise more challenging. Start out with a light weight of two pounds, and work your way up to five over time.

3. Step-Ups

Step-ups are a great way to keep your knees limber while also giving you a light cardio workout. This exercise can be performed with an aerobic stepper, or at the bottom of a staircase.

If you have balance issues, consider placing the stepper next to a chair or a wall to help you safely maintain your balance. If using a staircase, you can hold onto the railing to prevent falls.

To perform this exercise:

  • Stand up straight facing the stepper or stairs.
  • Exhale as you step your right leg up onto the step.
  • Step your left foot up onto the step.
  • Exhale as you step down with your left, then right, leg.
  • Repeat on the left leg.
  • Perform 10 times on each side.

Step-ups may not be a safe exercise for all seniors. Consider having a partner on hand should you need extra help with balancing.

4. Calf Raises

Calf raises will help work your lower knees and, of course, your calves. The calf muscles help support the knees, which will help protect them from further injury. This exercise can be performed using a chair or against a wall for support and balance.

To perform this exercise:

  • Stand with your front facing the back of a chair, or with your back against a wall.
  • Place your feet hip-width apart and your toes facing forward.
  • Exhale as you lift your heels off the floor up onto your toes.
  • Hold for a few seconds.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower back down.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

5. Knee Squats

Knee squats allow you to strengthen your knees without putting your safety at risk. For this exercise, you will need a sturdy chair.

  • Stand with your front facing the back of a chair.
  • Hold onto the chair to help you maintain balance.
  • Exhale as you squat down until your knee covers your big toe.
  • Inhale as you slowly return to standing.
  • Repeat 10 times.

6. Leg Crosses

Leg crosses will help you strengthen both your knees and your upper legs. This simple exercise can be performed at the edge of a bed.

  • While sitting at the edge of a bed, cross your ankles with your right leg on top.
  • Push your back leg forward and your right leg backwards against each other. The movement should cause your thigh muscles to contract.
  • Hold the position for ten seconds.
  • Switch legs, and repeat.
  • Perform four repetitions on each leg.

These six exercises will help strengthen your knees and prevent injuries. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, and work with a partner if necessary to ensure your workouts are safe and effective.