5 Easy & Gentle Knee Exercises for Seniors

Written By on February 10, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mich Torres (PT)

Enjoying your retirement years isn’t only about living in an incredibly stunning beach house or reaping the fruits of your investments bought through SMSF loans.

But it’s also about having the strength to do the activities you’ve always wanted to do, like travelling, gardening or working on different DIY home projects.

So as you ease into your retirement years, pay attention to your health—including your knees. To help you get started, here are several gentle knee exercises for seniors that you can try.

Seated Knee Extension

As you get older, your bones lose mass and become less dense. Ligaments that support your knees also become less elastic, causing stiffness, especially in the morning. To battle against that, you have to do gentle knee exercises every day.

You can start with a seated knee extension. It’s a great routine to warm up and improve your knee joint’s flexibility and range of motion. Plus, all you need for this exercise is a chair. Sit on it and place your feet on the ground. Then, start with your right leg; lift it from the ground and hold it in a straight position for five seconds before putting it down. Next, do the same for the left side. Repeat the exercise ten times for each side. 

Standing Knee Flexion 

Knee flexion helps strengthen your knee joints and hamstring muscles. Moreover, it improves your balance and prevents lower back pain.

Start by standing in front of a sturdy chair, a kitchen countertop or anything you can hold onto for support. Keep your upper body straight, hold onto a chair (or countertop) and raise your right foot off the floor. Bend your knee and bring your foot towards your bottom or at the farthest angle possible. Then, slowly put your right foot back down. Repeat the routine for each foot at least ten times. 

Classic Step-ups



Classic step-ups are great for your knee, balance and overall cardio. This exercise is easy to do as you only need to step up onto a higher surface repeatedly. 

Stand straight with a bottom stair, low curb or workout stool in front of you. Should you need help balancing, ask a caregiver to help spot you or have a chair ready beside you. Then, step up onto the stair or stool with your right leg, then your left. Step back down with your right leg and then your left. Do the routine repeatedly ten to twelve times and in three sets. On every other set, begin with the opposite leg. 

Side Steps

Like the classic step-ups, side steps are fairly easy to execute. You can do it anywhere in your home or a park, and you don’t need any special equipment. 

Begin by standing in a neutral stance with your feet apart. Step to the side with your leg, and then bring your left leg next to your right. Then, reverse the movement. Step to the side using your left foot and bring your right leg beside it. Repeat the routine ten to 12 times and up to three sets. If you want to take this exercise to the next level, you can wear ankle weights when performing multiple sets of side steps. 

Squats with Chair 

If you want to further improve your balance, boost your leg strength and improve your knee range of motion, try doing squats with a chair. It is an intermediate move, so try this routine only if you’ve already built or regained endurance and stamina. 

To begin this exercise, stand with your feet with a chair behind you. Keep your heels on the ground, and then slowly lower yourself down to the chair by bending your knees until your bottom lightly touches the chair. Hold that squat position for five seconds before rising slowly. Repeat that move until you complete ten squats. 

Protect Your Knees During These Exercises

While these gentle exercises are designed to strengthen knees, they can still get you hurt if you don’t execute them properly, or they’re not suitable for your fitness level. So before doing these knee exercises for seniors, follow the tips below:

  • Talk to your doctor: Before doing any new exercise, consult with your doctor. They know your medical history, so they can advise you on exercises suitable to your condition and fitness level and help prevent any risk of a knee injury. You can also ask them if wearing knee supports can help you exercise more. 
  • Do warmups first: Never rush into difficult exercises right away. Always do warmups by walking around the room or doing some dynamic stretching. It will help your body loosen up before getting into more complicated movements. 
  • Observe proper form: Another way to prevent injury is to use proper form. It can also help you get the most out of each exercise. You can hire a personal trainer to guide you in learning and executing the correct stance. 
  • Start slowly: Don’t expect to do leg presses or wall squats in your first week. Begin with step-ups, side steps and other gentler exercises mentioned above. Build your stamina and endurance before moving to more strenuous routines. 
  • Listen to your body:  If you notice any knee pain or discomfort on any part of your body, stop working out for a while. Consult with your doctor or trainer to resolve the root cause issue of your symptoms and mobility issues before going back to strengthening your knees. 

We hope these tips and exercises will help you enjoy your retirement years better. Don’t hesitate to explore our website today for more posts and articles on knee health. 

Author
Kris Ceniza (PT)
Kris has a Masters in Physical Therapy specializing in sporting injuries. Focusing on knee pain, Kris has seen it all when it comes to trauma knee injuries. Passionate about helping people return to the sport they love, Kris writes many of the sporting focused articles at Knee Force.