Knees come into play in pretty much every single physical activity you do. Even when you’re just standing, they are bearing the weight of your body. As you age, the ligaments around your knees become stiff and the muscles that surround your knee joint become weaker. This puts a lot of stress on your knees, which is why knee problems are common among seniors. However, keeping your knees healthy and in good shape does not require too much effort or expense. Here are 5 simple and effective exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime to give your knees a good workout.
1. Leg Lifts
Your joints are made up of many different muscles and one of the best ways to maintain healthy knees is to strengthen the muscles around the joint. If your joint muscles are strong, it reduces the stress on the knees and keeps them free from pain and injury. While you can add weights or use a leg lift machine in the gym, leg lifts can be done anywhere using just your body weight.
Lie on the floor and, keeping your right leg on the floor, raise your left leg a foot or so off the floor. Lower your left leg and repeat 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, then repeat on the other side.
Knee pain occurs as you age because the ligaments surrounding the knee joint become stiffer. They are unable to carry the stress placed on them which eventually leads to pain, inflammation, or injury. Step-ups are a safe way to keep your ligaments in shape.
Set up a platform, something like a low bench or a stair, and place both feet on the platform. Then, slowly lower the opposite foot to the floor, touching your toes to the ground, and then returning it to the platform. Repeat 10 to 12 times, and then switch sides. You can adjust the difficulty level by increasing or decreasing the height of the platform.
3. Wall Sits
Wall sits are another easy exercise that strengthens the quadriceps, glutes, and many of the other small muscle groups surrounding the knee joints increasing their overall strength. Another advantage of this exercise is that you can adjust the intensity of this exercise based on the current condition of your knees.
Stand with your back up against a wall with your feet hip-distance apart. Slide your back down the wall, as if you were sitting in a chair, to come to a squat position. The lower you sit, the more difficult the move—and the more pressure you might feel in your knees. Don’t go too low though. The lowest point is when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the squat for 30 seconds or until your muscles are completely fatigued.
4. Knee-To-Thigh Stretch
The muscles of your legs work in conjunction with the knees which is why it is important to keep all of the leg muscles flexible. This simple stretch hits all of the major areas of the leg, knee, and lower back. The muscles and ligaments around your knee and in your legs are like a rubber band. When you stretch it regularly, it stays in good shape and makes it less likely to snap.
To do this stretch, sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you, and then bring your left foot toward your butt. Drop your left knee out to the side as you place the sole of your left foot in your right inner thigh. Then, bend at the waist and slowly fold forward, reaching your hands toward your toes. Stay here for 1 to 2 minutes, and then switch sides.
As obvious as it sounds, there is no substitute for a simple and easy exercise like walking, especially when more and more people are spending a large part of their day sitting at their desks. It’s also great for aging knees because walking is an effective cardiovascular exercise that puts the least amount of stress on your joints.
Walking can help you stay active, maintain proper weight and mobility as you get older. Another good thing about walking is you can do it just about anywhere. No expensive gym memberships of sports equipment needed. Just a comfortable pair of shoes is all you need. Start with a stroll around your neighborhood for 15-30 minutes every day, ideally early in the morning to get your metabolism up and active.