Knee Exercises for Seniors

Knee pain can often lead to a loss of strength and decreased motion in your knees. Knee exercises for seniors can lessen your pain and swelling, increase your range of motion, improve your strength, and return you to your normal daily activities.

Many activities can cause or increase your knee pain including walking, and standing for long periods. To improve your ability to recover, knee exercises for seniors will help.

  1. Seated Knee Extension
  2. Seated Knee to Chest
  3. Forward Lunge
  4. Hamstring Curls
Watch my instructional video

In our first exercise we will simply extend and bend our knee. This will improve the range of motion and help to reduce the pain. Keep our core tight while extending your knee, and squeeze the thigh to finish the exercise. To improve your knee into flexion, the knee to chest is a classic knee exercise. Move slowly and don’t go farther than pain will allow. Our lunge is a wonderful exercise to strengthen the knee while also stretching your hip flexors. We will finish off with a hamstring curl to use gravity to strengthen the posterior muscles of the leg and buttock.

Exercise 1

Knee Extension.  Sit in your chair comfortably with your feet flat on the floor, and chest lifted. Begin by extending one knee until your leg is straight out. Squeeze your thigh muscle and point your toes to the ceiling to enhance your exercise. Hold briefly, then return your foot to the start position and repeat with the other leg.

Exercise 2

Knee to Chest Begin this exercise in your chair with your bottom to the edge, leaning back like you are falling asleep. Extend your legs out in front. Slowly reach down and place your hands around one of your knee, then gently bring that knee toward your chest. If you have had a knee replacement, check with your doctor. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg. Remember to breathe during the exercise.

Exercise 3

Forward lunge Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Take a comfortable step forward with your right leg. Shift your weight forward so your heel hits the floor first. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor and the right shin is vertical. Make sure your knee doesn’t go past the right toe. If mobility allows, lightly tap the left knee to the floor while keeping weight in the right heel. Press into the right heel to drive back up to starting position. Alternate legs 10 times.

Exercise 4

Standing Hamstring Curls: Begin by standing in back of your chair, feet hip width apart, chest lifted. Bring one heel back and up toward your buttock. Hold briefly, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Knee exercises for seniors will get you started on your fitness journey of stronger legs but remember to follow a few tips including resting and using ice. Rest is a great way to help your body recover from a workout or an injury and by avoiding more activity. If you need to, use a cane or crutch to off-weight your painful leg, which will lessen the stress on the knee. Applying ice and elevation to the affected leg for 15 to 20 minutes will also help with the pain and swelling if any after your workout.

Another interesting treatment for sore or injured knees is simply applying a compression wrap securely around the knee. Begin the wrap at your lower calf and then continued until the knee is wrapped to just above the knee. Make sure to start tight and then gradually looser as you wrap over the knee.

In terms of weights, I would start at a 2 pound ankle weight to give more of a challenge to the knee during your exercise program. Be sure to avoid too much stepping as you may trip with the added ankle weight.

In conclusion, knee exercises for seniors will help build strength and improve range of motion in the knee joint. You will be amazed as your strength and motion improve, just how much easier it is to perform some the daily activities that were harder before you started the leg exercises.

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.