It should make you think that up to 50% of women and 25% of men are likely to suffer a bone fracture as we mature. This is largely due to fragile bones, but is also affected by our hip joints and muscles weakening and becoming less flexible as we get older.
It is no wonder that we should be doing what we can to avoid being one of the statistics. Rather do what you can to ensure that you will be in the ‘other’ 50% of women, or 75% of men!
Please click the button below to download a free PDF of the exercises in this article:
Keep in Mind:
Before starting any new exercise(s), we strongly recommend you follow the advice of the National Institute on Aging and consult your doctor.
What are Hip-Strengthening Exercises for Seniors?
To strengthen your hips, you will need to do exercises to develop the muscles in your upper leg and lower body. You will also need to do stretches to help the muscles and joints become more flexible.
Both of these will make your hip joint stronger, so you will be able to move with ease and should have a greater chance of avoiding falls and injuries.
Benefits of Hip-Strengthening Exercises for Seniors
If you have strong muscles and flexible hip joints, you will feel more confident about moving around and even doing more challenging exercises. It will also help you to avoid falls and other injuries that may involve a bone fracture.
If you do injure your hip, proper rehabilitation, by way of an exercise programme, is very important to help you build up your strength again. This will mean that you should be able to resume your normal activities and not worry about hurting the joint again.
Hip exercises help to make your whole lower body stronger, which aids in improving your posture and your ability to do activities, which will help to keep your bones strong.
Before beginning any new exercises, it is best to consult your doctor.
For each of the exercises described below, you should do a number of repetitions. Begin with 10 on each side and add to this as you get fitter.
If you feel any pain in your muscles or hip joint, stop the exercise and consult a medical professional.
Hip Flexor Exercises for Seniors
With any stretching exercise, do not move any further than you find comfortable.
As you become more flexible, you will be able to stretch further.
Kneeling hip floor flexor
The kneeling hip floor flexor is a good exercise to stretch and strengthen your whole pelvis.
Because you are kneeling on one knee, make sure that the surface under your supporting knee is soft enough to support your weight comfortably.
- Begin by kneeling on one knee, with one leg planted firmly in front.
- Place both your hands on your front leg, just behind your knee.
- Lean forward onto your front leg, pressing down on your hands.
- Return to the starting position.
When performing a kneeling hip floor flexor, you should try to keep your weight on your back, supporting leg as much as possible.
Bridges for Hip Strength
A bridge is an exercise that begins lying on a horizontal surface, such as a mat, or even a bed.
- Lie on your back, with your legs slightly bent and your arms flat next to your sides.
- Keep the small of your back flat on the floor.
- Push down on your feet and push your hips towards the ceiling.
- Only lift your hips as far as is comfortable, until you become more flexible.
- Hold the flex at the top for a few seconds.
- Control the motion carefully and bring your hips back to the ground.
A bridge is performed in a slow, controlled manner.
The clamshell exercise should be done on a comfortable horizontal surface, such as a mat, or a bed.
- Lie on one side, with your legs bent and stacked on top of each other.
- Your head should be cushioned on your arm.
- You can use the other arm to support youself, by placing your hand on the floor in front of you.
- Lift the top knee, opening it towards the ceiling.
- Lower your knee to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise on both sides.
When performing the clamshell exercise, make sure that your top foot remains touching the lower one.
Hip Mobility Exercises for Seniors
A hip circle should involve moving only your hips. The movement is from your waist.
- Stand firmly, with your feet parallel and about shoulder-width apart.
- Put your hands on your hips, so that you can feel them moving.
- Push your hips forward.
- Keeping them pushed outwards, move them to the right, then to the back and to the left, then back to the front.
- When you have completed one circle with your hips, rest for a few seconds.
- When you have repeated the process a few times, change to the other direction.
When doing a hip circle, remember to keep your head and shoulders as steady as you can. Don’t move your whole torso.
Begin the Frankenstein walk by standing firmly on two legs.
If you are concerned about your balance, begin by holding onto something, such as the back of a chair, for support.
- Stand firmly, with your feet a little apart.
- Hold out your arms straight in front of you, parallel to the ground.
- If you are supporting yourself with a chair, only lift up one arm.
- Lift one leg up towards your arms.
- Only lift your leg as far as is comfortable. As you become more flexible, you can aim to touch your hand with your leg.
- Replace your leg in the starting position.
- Repeat with the other leg.
If you are not using the chair, you will walk slowly across the floor.
When performing the Frankenstein Walk, always begin slowly. Do not aim to touch your hand with your foot at first.
Single Leg Romanian Dead Lifts
A Romanian dead lift can be done with the support of a chair, a counter or a bar.
- Begin by standing firmly with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Adjust your weight slightly, so that you are standing on one leg.
- Reach your arms out in front of you as you bend forward from the waist and lift your leg behind you.
- If you are supporting yourself, you will only reach one arm forward.
- Go back to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise on the other side.
As you work on the single leg Romanian dead lift, you can hold a weight in your hands. This will help you to drop from the waist strongly.
Exercises for Seniors with Hip Replacement
If you have hip surgery, it is very important that you do an exercise programme to rehabilitate your hip properly.
Your medical professional will give you a series of exercises to follow.
A heel slide is done sitting against something, so that you can stretch your legs out straight in front of you along the floor.
- Sit so that your back is supported and your legs are extended out sraight in front of you.
- Flex your right foot, so that your heel is on the floor.
- Slide your heel towards your hip.
- Allow your leg to bend, but don’t strain the leg at all.
- Slide your foot away from your body again.
- Repeat this on the right.
When you perform a heel slide, keep the movement slow and steady.
Marching on the spot is a rhythmic exercise that you should have fun with.
- Begin by standing in a neutral position, with your legs about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold onto the back of a chair, or support yourself against the wall.
- Put your weight on your left leg as you lift your right knee up as far as is comfortable.
- Do not lift your leg any higher than when your thigh is about 90 degrees to the ground.
- Lower your right leg, so that you are standing firmly on both legs.
- Repeat this action on the left.
As your muscles get stronger, you can work on this exercise without the support.
When performing a marching exercise, alternate between your legs. Try to keep the rhythm of the movement quite regular.
Standing Hip Abduction
A standing hip abduction is a slow stretch and movement of one leg at a time, to the side.
- Stand in a neutral posture, with your feet a little apart.
- Use a chair, counter or wall as a support to begin with.
- Move your right leg to the side, so that your leg reaches about a 45 degree angle.
- Move the leg back to the centre.
- This can be repeated on the other side.
When you perform a standing hip abduction, make sure that you keep your leg straight, with your knee facing the front.
Do not allow your leg to twist out or in.
Exercises for Seniors with Hip Pain (Including Chair Exercises)
Seated Ankle Rotations
For seated ankle rotations, you can either sit on a chair, with your feet on the floor, or you can sit on a bed/bench, with your legs dangling over the side.
If you sit on the chair, you will need to raise your foot slightly off the ground to do the exercise.
- Begin with your leg in a neutral position – somewhere above the ground.
- Flex your foot upwards.
- Rotate it to one side, slowly completing a full circle with your foot.
- Reverse the action, so that you rotate your foot in the other direction.
- Relax the foot again.
- Repeat the action with the other foot.
When performing a seated ankle rotation, keep your foot flexed by stretching your toes away from your leg as much as possible.
Knee to Chest
A knee to chest stretch is done lying down – either on a bed, or on a mat on the floor.
You can do this stretch with both legs straight, or with one leg bent.
- Lie down flat on your back, with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Your back should be flat on the floor. If necessary, you can bend your legs slightly.
- Bend one knee and bring it towards your chest.
- Hug that leg, as it is bent, and pull it upwards and into your body as much as you can.
- Let go of the leg and put it down, comfortably.
- Repeat with the other leg.
When you perform the Knee to chest stretch, you can do it with one leg, or both at the same time.
The two knees to chest stretch is done in exactly the same way as with one leg, but bring both legs towards your chest and hug both of them to your body at the same time.
Seated Knee Raises
To perform a seated knee raise, you should squarely on a chair.
- Keep your feet firmly on the floor, about shoulder-width apart.
- Shift your weight slightly onto one leg and raise the other knee.
- Begin by lifting your knee just slightly off the ground.
- You should aim to work towards lifting your knee as high as is comfortable.
- Put the leg down again.
- Repeat with the other leg.
When you perform a seated knee raise, you can press down on the chair with your hands for support.
As you become stronger, try to avoid using your hands for the extra support.
Hip strengthening and stretching exercises are very important to help you to avoid injury, strain and even falls.
Follow an exercise programme diligently to make sure that you are in the ‘other’ 50% of women, or 25% of men, who should not suffer an injury!
Supporting Scientific Studies
- 1The Effect of Trunk Stabilization Exercises with a Swiss Ball on Core Muscle Activation in the Elderly
- 2Effects of Different Bridge Exercises for the Elderly on Trunk and Gluteal Muscles
- 3Functional sit-to-stands evoke greater neuromuscular activation than orthopaedic bed exercises in healthy older adults
- 4Exercises to Activate Seniors
- 5Comparison of the effects of two selected exercises of Theraband and Pilates on the balance and strength of lower limb in elderly women
- 6Effect of a Gentle Iyengar Yoga Program on Gait in the Elderly: An Exploratory Study
- 7Physical-Performance Outcomes and Biomechanical Correlates from the 32-Week Yoga Empowers Seniors Study
- 8Effects of Yoga on Symptoms, Physical Function, and Psychosocial Outcomes in Adults with Osteoarthritis. A Focused Review
- 9Physical activity for osteoarthritis management: a randomized controlled clinical trial evaluating hydrotherapy or Tai Chi classes
- 10Keep Seniors Standing Tall