What are the Best Exercises to Strengthen Aging Knees?

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
Q: I’m looking for exercises to strengthen aging knees. I’m in my late 50s, and I take part in dancing, weightlifting and yoga. All this makes me feel better, gives me plenty of energy and helps me control my weight. But my knees hurt enough to make me wonder how long I can keep up the workouts. Do you have any suggestions?
Expert Answer

As you get old, so do your knees. Knees are subjected to everyday activities of our lives. If the knees are not taken care of they can develop injuries which are accompanied by pain, swelling and inflammation. Your joints contain a fluid called the synovial fluid. The synovial fluid act as lubricant of two connecting joints. When you don’t take care of the joints, the cartilage can break down leading to friction between the two joining bones which can result to a disorder such as osteoarthritis.

Strengthen Aging Knees

In order to ensure your knees are healthy you should avoid activities and lifestyle that can compromise the health of your knees. Exercises are good for healthy knees. There are several exercises that can help you keep your joints healthy and functioning well. Not all exercises are good for your joints; some are not good for your knees such as the high impact exercises. High impact exercises can worsen the situation of an already injured knee. You should first condition your knees before taking part in any exercise. This can be done by:

  • Taking a few minute walk around. This helps the muscles and the knee joints to stretch and warm up.
  • You can also do aerobics. You should ensure that the movements are done slowly and at a pace that that can be controlled.

Exercises that are good for your aging knee include:

  • Square Squats: Square squats are good for knees especially if they are done correctly. When doing the exercise you should stand and put your legs shoulder-width apart and bend your knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Ensure to keep your body straight, any movement can strain the knee. You should do about 20 squats then you can proceed to use weights. You should only proceed to weights when you feel the squats are becoming easy.
  • Leg lifts: Leg lifts can be good for aging knees too. You can do this by sitting on the floor with your back straight. One of the legs should be extended while the other one bent towards the chest. When you are in this position, you should lift the stretched leg a bit from the ground and hold on for about 10 seconds. You can do this 10 to 20 times then switch to another leg and repeat the procedure. You should do this until you feel a slight burn in the quad muscle.
  • Knee Exercise: Knee exercise is also good for old people. Before you commence knee exercise you should ensure you take a walk and also do a gently stretching. You should wear sturdy shoes that will provide good support for the feet. Avoid slippery places. The exercise can be done by standing on your back against the wall and the feet straight infront of you. You should then start sliding down while ensuring* that your back is against the wall until you are almost in a sitting position. You should stop sliding downwards when you feel uncomfortable. The first time you do the knee exercise you should hold on in the sitting position for a few seconds before sliding back. When you get used to the exercise your quad muscles will be able to hold on the sitting position for upto 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise several times. When you feel stronger you can do the exercise 10 times. When you are done with the exercise take a walk again so that you can stretch the quads and knees. You can do this knee exercise several times a week.
  • Aquatic Exercises: Water provides a good medium for low impact exercises. Water buoyancy helps in removing* weight off your joints and the muscles. Water adds resistance for the extremities and help in building strength. Water exercises include swimming and water aerobics. You can also get in hot tubs. Hot tub is therapeutic and massages the muscles after an exercise.
  • Stationary and Outdoor Sliding: Cycling is a low impact aerobic exercise and helps in improving* the strength of the heart, knees and hips. Cycling can also be done indoors during winter months on a stationary bike.
  • Jogging: Jogging can help in stretching your muscles. You should jog on a flat surface so as to avoid holes and surfaces that are not flat which can cause injuries. Before you start jogging you should wear good pair of sneakers and also orthotics.

Other exercises that can be good for your aging knees include tai chi, yoga and dance classes. Tai chi strengthens the muscles such as the quads. It also increases* the flexibility, develops balance and improves* the range of motion. Yoga can help in easing the stiffness around the knees and tension in the muscles. Dance classes can also help in reducing* stiffness around the knees.

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Expert Author : Kelly Everson (Consumer Health Digest)

Kelly Everson is an independent editor, an award-winning writer and an editorial consultant in the health and fitness industries. Currently, she is a contributing editor at Consumer Health Digest.