Hip Exercises for Seniors

Hip exercises are essential for seniors in order to maintain good bone, health, balance, and reduce the risk of fall. More than one in three seniors fall each year, and though usually not serious, some do end in hip fractures.

Leg strength and balance go hand in hand for seniors. Practicing balance exercises during the week in addition to leg strengthening exercises is one of the best actions seniors can take to reduce the risk of falls and maintain an active, independent lifestyle.

  1. Hip Side Raise
  2. Mini Squats
  3. Quad Stretch
  4. Hamstring Stretch
Watch my instructional video

The hip side raise is a great exercise to strengthen the lateral muscles of the hip which are important for balance and walking. Though the muscles are on the side of our legs, they act as stabilizers with gait, creating a stable junction between the hips and torso. Mini squats will assist in quadriceps strengthening, adding to your ability to move forward easily and safely. We then need to stretch out the fascia and muscles by performing a quad stretch to both legs. This is followed by a hamstring stretch to allow the posterior chain muscles the opportunity to lengthen also, which can help prevent injuries.

Exercise 1

Hip Side Raise. Begin by standing at the back of your chair, feet together. Raise your right leg to the side as high as comfortable. Keep your leg straight, your toes pointing to the wall in front. Pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Exercise 2

Mini Squats.  Begin by standing in back of your chair or holding on to a counter or sink. Lift your chest and chin. Start by bending your knees and level change downward, not too far. This is not a squat, it is a partial squat. Stop about half way down into your partial squat, pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 3

Quad Stretch, Begin in a chair, sitting on the front edge. Turn to one side and bring your front knee to the floor. Slowly bring your toes back to the rear as far as possible. Sit tall in the chair, chest raised, chin up, breathe deeply. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then turn the opposite way and repeat with the other leg.

Exercise 4

Seated hamstring stretch Begin seated in your chair, scoot to the front edge. Extend one leg out fully and begin by bringing your toes toward your body. Place both hands on your thigh and slowly lean forward from the hips and try to reach your knee, calf or ankle. This stretch should feel good. Hold this position for 30

The muscles of the legs are the largest muscles in our body in terms of blood demand. Warming up these muscles will go a long way in reducing the risk of injuries due to quick movements during an exercise session. Limbering and warming exercises can be performed just before doing any of these leg exercises for seniors. Simply walk around your home doing a high march with your knees lifting up to the height of your hips. Two minutes of this kind of warm up and limbering will improve the blood flow, increase the temperature, and also improve the range of motion in your hip joint.

The great thing about many hip exercises, is that they also help with general balance as we age. When performing these exercises, maintain a tight core, and use your vision system to help with balancing during the movement. Hold on to a chair for one or two repetitions, then try letting go of the chair and practice balancing during the movement.

It is important to remember your posture with the side raise and also the mini squat. For the side raise, make sure your toes are pointing at all times ahead to the wall in front. This will ensure that your side muscles are actually the ones that are activated by the movement pattern.

With the mini squat, the important take away is to use this exercise as a small range of motion knee exercise. Avoid the impulse to keep lowering your torso during the exercise and limit yourself to just a mini squat, bending your knees about 30 degrees at most during the lower part of the exercise. This will reduce the stress on the knee joint and also the work involved, allowing more repetitions to be performed.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.