Leg Muscle Weakness Exercises For Seniors And The Elderly

Knee Marching

Leg muscle weakness is a critical factor in maintaining balance in the elderly. By performing exercises that are designed to improve strength in the ankles and hips, like knee marching, you can increase your dynamic balance and thereby reduce the risk of falling.

I have made a great balance video that is fun and easy to do for leg muscle weakness. All you need is a chair, comfortable loose fitting clothing,  and a pair of smooth bottom shoes to wear so you won’t catch your feet. Read on then give it a try.

Strong Hips

Strong hips, knees and ankles are required to archive a better state of balance. Lifting your legs up and down works on the ankles, quadriceps muscles and hips.

An overall great leg strengthener and balance workout. By selecting exercises that work on these areas we can improve our performance in many of the daily activities which require reaching forward, to the side or rotating around to the back.

When we raise our hip up in the air, believe it or not we are momentarily standing on one leg.


Go slow

This is definitely a balance exercise for leg muscle weakness. The slower you go, the harder this exercise becomes. Make sure you hold onto a chair or someone’s hand when performing this exercise if you feel at all uncomfortable with marching.

For a great workout, try marching for 2 minutes. Stop if you become winded, then continue until 2 minutes has passed. Try this knee marching exercise for increased hip and ankle strength.

Purpose of this exercise

This exercise will strengthen your ankles and hips. It will also improve your dynamic or “moving” balance.

Step 1

Stand with arms at sides, feet shoulder width apart.


Step 2

Raise one knee up as high as comfortable.Lower, then raise the other knee. Repeat 20 times.



Breathe normally, inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth.


Use a chair to hold on to while standing. Hold on with your finger, one hand or two hands. Don’t close your eyes or hold your breath. Raise your arms out to the sides if you need more balance.

Take it up a notch

Lift chest and look straight ahead to make standing more challenging.Try adding a one pound ankle weight to one ankle.

How to do Knee Marching

How to do Knee Marching

More Balance Exercises

1. Single limb stance

  • A great place to begin is with the simplest standing balance exercise. Hold on to a chair and balance on one leg.
  • This is a great place to begin to feel your center of gravity over your ankles. This is your goal, maintaining your center over your ankles.
  • Try a few seconds balancing on each foot. Work up to a minute if you can. Then begin to hold on with one hand, then one finger and finally try to let go completely.

2. Eye tracking

  • Move on to the other exercises with static standing exercises as you gain confidence including this exercise which targets your vision and vestibular system.
  • This exercise can sometimes make you dizzy. If this happens, stop the exercise. Try it again with smaller head movements next time.
  • Gradually you will learn to do it correctly.

3. Clock reach

  • Make sure to hold on to a chair when attempting this exercise to prevent falls in the elderly. Don’t reach back too far if you have pain in your shoulder.
  • (Use your one pound wrist weight here to increase your workout.)

4. Staggered stance

  • Also hold on to a chair when trying this exercise for elderly balance problems. Let go of the chair for a few seconds at a time if you feel comfortable.

5. Single limb with arm

  • Look up from your feet when balancing and pick a spot at eye level in front of you to improve falls in elderly. Lift your chest and bring your shoulders back.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth

6. Balancing wand

  • This is a fun exercise and easy to do. Use a cane, broom or even an umbrella.  Don’t have too much fun with these balance exercises for elderly!

7. Knee marching

  • Try this one next to a counter so you can hold on when performing knee marching. This is also a great cardio exercise and for leg muscle weakness.

8. Body circles

  • This exercise for improving balance can be a little tricky. Keep a chair nearby if you are uncomfortable without one.  Make sure your knees and hips are kept straight when you circle.

9. Heel to toe

  • The moving exercises are the most difficult. Only try this balance exercise when you have become good at the preceding exercises.
  • (If you have masking or painters tape, place an 8 to 12 foot piece in a straight line on the carpet or floor. This will allow you to maintain a straighter line when performing the walking exercises.)

10. Grapevine

  • Seniors who dance will be more familiar with these balance exercises. Try it in your kitchen holding on to the counter.
  • Walk several steps in one direction, turn around and walk back. Continue for several minutes. Gradually hold on less and less until you can take a few steps without holding on.
  • It may take a while, but keep practicing…you’ll get it sooner or later!

11. Stepping

  • This series of stepping exercises are very challenging. You may have a stable family member demonstrate these for you first.

12. Dynamic walking

  • Try these only when you feel confident and have a helper in the home.
  • Give them a try when you are stronger and more sure of yourself. These exercises are great to do with someone else.
  • Holding hands with a stable family member will make these exercises easier and safer. (This is where you may use your pad of paper or a small book when walking.)

Resources Prevent Falls