6 Knee-Strengthening Exercises For Seniors
Staying active is vital to your emotional and physical health, especially during your golden years. Lack of physical activity could lead to muscle stiffness, joint pain, and immobility. Knee-strengthening exercises for seniors can help you stave off conditions like tendonitis and arthritis, which are prevalent among the older population.
You may worry that your age prevents you from engaging in physical activity. However, light knee-strengthening exercises for seniors do not require strenuous movements or heavy gym equipment. With these simple wellness exercises, you can improve your balance, posture, and energy.
WHY SHOULD SENIORS STRENGTHEN THEIR KNEES?
Arthritis affects nearly 23% of adults in the United States — primarily seniors. As you age, your joints become less resistant to inflammation, and the cartilage around your knees may start to break down. These conditions can create moderate to severe pain, which will escalate over time.
Joint disorders and subsequent injuries can discourage you from getting up and moving around. As a result, you could gain weight, become dependent on others’ assistance, and experience depression or anxiety from isolation.
Knee-strengthening exercises are important because they help you maintain your independence and alleviate pain.
1. SEATED KNEE EXTENSIONS
The knee extension exercise is popular among most seniors due to its simplicity. Start by sitting in a sturdy chair with your arms at your side. Then straighten one leg in front of you, and hold it in the air for several seconds before switching to your other leg.
If you are new to this exercise, you may be unable to extend your leg fully. Continue training for several minutes every day to increase your flexibility and lift your leg higher.
Remember to breathe in deeply as you slowly extend your leg. Deep breaths supply your muscles with oxygen and prevent you from straining.
As you grow more comfortable with this exercise, consider adding light ankle weights to increase your muscle endurance.
2. WALL SQUATS
Wall squats strengthen your knees, hamstrings, and glutes. For this exercise, you will need to stand against a sturdy flat surface that can support your weight.
Note: Do not lean against a door that could swing open and injure you during this activity.
Place your feet shoulder-width apart, point your toes forward, and bend your knees slowly as you lower your buttocks toward the ground. You can slide your hands down the wall for grip if you worry that you may lose balance, or keep a chair off to the side for support. Stop descending once you achieve an upright sitting position, and try to hold the squat for ten seconds.
Slowly raise yourself back to a standing position and complete the exercise three to five times. Your legs and hips may feel slightly sore, but this sensation is normal. Eventually, your muscles will become strong enough to squat and hold the position with little trouble.
3. STEP-UPS AND SIDE STEPS
Some knee-strengthening exercises for seniors — like step-ups and side steps — also improve your cardiovascular health.
Step-ups require you to find a stair, low ledge, or raised surface that will not slide out from underneath you. As the name suggests, you will step up on your chosen surface one leg at a time and then back down. Do this exercise 10 to 12 times, switching your leading leg.
Don’t go too fast during your first few attempts at this exercise. Rushing could cause you to trip and fall. If you want to be safe, ask someone nearby to spot you during your reps.
Side steps don’t require any special equipment. Simply stand with your legs hip-width apart and take a wide step to the side with your left leg. Then, bring your right leg toward your left leg to achieve a neutral position.
Switch legs and step to the right — this time bringing your left leg back to your right leg.
4. CALF RAISES
You can do calf raises from an upright sitting or standing position, depending on your comfort level. Place your shoulders on your hips and lift your heels off the ground while shifting your weight to your toes. Hold this position for ten seconds, then slowly lower your heels back to the ground.
Calf raises reduce stress on your knees by:
- Loosening your gastrocnemius and soleus (leg muscles)
- Preventing atrophy in your hips
- Padding tendons in your ankles and knee joints
Guided yoga can help you strengthen your knee joints and improve your overall balance and mobility. These ancient full-body exercises can also reduce stress, alleviate muscle pain, and boost energy levels.
Traditional yoga schools teach 84 positions. However, the most popular poses for strengthening knee joints are:
- The supported chair pose
- The bridge
- Supported warrior stance
- The gate pose
- Wide-angle seated forward bend
Partner with an experienced yoga trainer or look up videos online to learn each of these knee-strengthening exercises for seniors or explore other positions that may work best for your body. Mastering them can take months or even years of practice. Still, spending at least 20 minutes a day for yoga can significantly elevate your mood and joint endurance.
6. MARCHING HIP RAISE
Place a pillow under your neck and lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift your hips as high as you can and hold them for a few seconds. Bend one knee toward your chest slowly, then lower it and switch legs.
Bending your knees fortifies the muscles in your hips to carry more upper body weight. As a result, your knee joints sustain less stress when you stand and walk.
SUPPORT YOUR SENIOR LOVED ONE DURING THEIR WELLNESS JOURNEY
A routine workout regimen can keep you fit as you age. However, exercising at an older age can be dangerous without caretakers nearby. Assisted living care cottages allow you to spend your golden years in comfort and pursue your wellness journey in a safe environment.
Contact Unlimited Care Assisted Living Cottages to explore our communities in The Woodlands, Spring, Conroe, and Kingwood, TX. Call 713-419-2609 to learn more about knee-strengthening exercises for seniors.