As we age, leg exercises are very important especially for seniors with bad knees to maintain their flexibility and mobility for longer. However, it can be easier said than done, especially if you have joint pain or an existing mobility issue. You’ll need to be especially vigilant when deciding on the exercises that you do and keep an eye out for any increased pain along the way to limit any permanent discomfort.

Your knees take the most strain throughout life as they need to support every other movement in your body. For this reason, as a senior, it’s essential to keep your knees healthy to allow you to maintain your independence for longer. There are a few great leg exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home or even from a chair, which will help to keep your knees as limber as possible: The following leg exercises for seniors with bad knees are designed in a way that will be easy for any elderly person to handle. They are low-impact, highly effective exercises.

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Leg Exercises for Seniors with Bad Knees


Using the edge of your bed or a chair, you’ll be able to strengthen your knees and your thighs to make movement much more manageable. This means you’ll be able to walk for more extended periods without having to take a break.

  1. Sit on the edge of the bed or on a chair where your feet can easily touch the floor.
  2. Place one ankle directly in front of the other so that your feet and lower legs cross over.
  3. Lift both of your feet slightly off the ground.
  4. Push your front foot back towards your body and your back foot out away from you.
  5. You should feel the ankles pressing against each other, and your thighs should contract.
  6. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  7. Switch legs and repeat.
  8. Try repeating the exercise 4 times on each leg to ensure an even muscle workout.


  • To create a more strenuous workout, try to lengthen the amount of time you’re holding your pose.
  • If you’re struggling with balance at first, try to use a chair rather than the edge of the bed so that you have back support. Gradually move away from the back support as you get stronger and develop your balance, making your workout more effective.


Your calves support your knees and need to remain strong too to take the rest of your weight while you’re walking around. You’ll need to use a wall or strong chair for balance while performing this exercise.

  1. Either lean your back against the wall or place your hands on the backrest of the chair with the chair out in front of you.
  2. Stand with your feet facing forward, parallel, and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Rock forward, letting the balls of your feet take the weight and lift your heels upwards, so you’re standing on tiptoe.
  4. Remain still for 10 seconds before lowering back down.
  5. Repeat up to 5 times.


  • Don’t place any of your weight on the back of the chair; your aim isn’t to strengthen your arms, and letting the chair take your weight through your arms won’t improve your calves or knees.

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Knee squats create greater flexibility and improve your ability to bend down for longer without excessive pain to your knees.

This exercise not only strengthens your knees but works your thighs and calves too. You’ll need to use your trusty chair again to help you to balance.

  1. Place your hands on the back of the chair.
  2. Your feet should form a parallel line with your hips.
  3. Gradually bend your knees while keeping your posture upright and looking straight ahead.
  4. Lower yourself so that your knees fully cover your toes.
  5. Hold your stance for 5 seconds, then stand back to the upright position.
  6. Repeat five times.


  • To intensify the workout, you should try holding your squat for a more extended period. Extending from 5 seconds to 10 seconds can vastly increase the muscles that you’re building.
  • Ensure that you always maintain the straight posture of your upper body. Slouching can cause the muscles in your back to become strained.


Knee steps are an excellent way to achieve a cardio workout and focus down on your knees. They’re a great exercise to perform if you’re a senior looking to lose a few pounds.

For this exercise, you should purchase an aerobic stepper as you can tailor the height to your needs. If you’re working to a budget, the bottom of the stairs will work. However, you may find the exercises more strenuous initially as they may require you to step up further than the exercise requires.

The ideal height would have your knee in a parallel line with your hips when you step up, but this will vary based on your height. Read Here: Best Knee Brace for Working Out: Top 5 Editor’s Picks

  1. Exhale as you take a step up with one foot onto the step.
  2. Get your balance while inhaling.
  3. Step up onto the step with the other foot (so you’re now standing on the step).
  4. Take your first leg and step back down to the floor again.
  5. Balance.
  6. Step back down with your other foot.
  7. Repeat at least ten times for a good workout.


  • The more steps you complete, the more beneficial your workout will be, but don’t try to push yourself too much. Stop when you start to feel tired to avoid overexertion.
  • You can gradually build up your workout by adding an extra step up each day.
  • If you’re feeling ambitious, this is one of the few knee exercises that can be beneficial as a cardio workout, so faster steps will develop your fitness more quickly. But don’t compromise your posture and balance. Doing it right is more important than doing it fast.

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Knee curls can vastly improve your knee flexibility, meaning that you’ll be able to walk for longer distances without having to take a break.

  1. Stand with your front-facing towards the back of a chair.
  2. Place your hands on the chair back to help you to balance.
  3. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Move all of your weight over to one foot and lift the other behind you.
  5. You want to keep the foot as close to your buttocks as possible while still maintaining your balance.
  6. Hold your knee up, your foot bending back towards your body for 5 seconds.
  7. Release and repeat using the other foot.


  • Use an ankle weight when you’ve built up your confidence. It will intensify the workout and will help to tone your buttocks too.
  • Always lift your foot gradually. This helps to develop the proper exercise posture.


This is an easy exercise that can be performed from the comfort of a chair and not only benefits your knees but can strengthen your hips too.

  1. Sit in a chair with your back against the backrest and your feet flat on the floor. It’s crucial to ensure your posture is correct. Don’t select a chair if you can’t touch the floor while maintaining back support.
  2. Hold the side of your chair with both hands by your sides to ensure you have accurate balance and pressure on your knees.
  3. Slowly straighten your leg out in front of you so that your toes are level with your hips.
  4. Hold for a few seconds before releasing and repeating with the other leg.
  5. Completing five repetitions on each leg is the optimum amount; however, don’t be too disappointed if you don’t make it to the five reps the first few times or if your leg doesn’t totally straighten out. The more you practice, the easier this will become.


  • Don’t jerk your leg upwards. Speed isn’t beneficial here; you’ll get more out of the exercise by taking it slowly.
  • Once you’ve mastered that, add an ankle weight when you lift your leg. It’ll increase your knee’s strength.


Leg Exercises for Seniors with Bad Knees

Exercising shouldn’t hurt, no matter how old you are. Sure, it might ache a little the next day, which just shows that you’ve stretched the muscles and that they need to heal. Read Here: Best Running Shoes for Flat Feet: Top 5 Editors Picks

However, if you’re experiencing severe pain during the exercise, there’s a chance that your posture is wrong or that you’re performing exercises that are actually detrimental to your knee health.

It’s always best to start exercising with the help of a professional so that you can make sure that you have your posture exactly right. It’s also recommended that you have another person with you when you begin your exercise regime, especially when you’re just starting out, just in case you experience any pain or discomfort.

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Squatting is one of the more challenging exercises that focuses on building up the knees. Although it is safe for you to do, even with knee injuries, it can put a lot of strain on your joints if you don’t squat correctly.

It’s best to start off doing squats against a wall to help maintain your balance and not put any extra stress on your muscles. (This way, you won’t fall backward).

Once you’ve mastered the balance and posture, you can move on to squatting with the support of a chair; then, when you’re feeling really confident, squat with no support.


Once you become really confident with your workout routine, you might want to add some lunges to develop your knee strength. Lunges are particularly helpful for individuals with knee osteoarthritis as it helps to stretch the tendons and support the more diverse movement.

You shouldn’t ever start lunging with no support. Try placing a chair at either side of you and supporting your weight using the back of the chairs at each side at first. Having a chair on either side helps you to position yourself correctly so that you don’t overload your weight on one side.

With lunges or other exercises that require a stepping motion, such as the knee steps discussed earlier, make sure that both feet are always facing towards the front and are positioned in a straight line. Twisting your feet at an angle can twist the muscles supporting your knees and cause further injury.


Articular cartilage is the protective layer that supports your joints. Common knee problems develop when this cartilage gets damaged and can’t repair itself, meaning that the bones scrape together more easily.

To preserve your articular cartilage as much as possible, you should reduce the amount of high-intensity exercise you do. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber to protect your bones and joints; however, the older you get, the more this cartilage will wear down, and you need to try to reduce the amount of shock that your knees experience.

To reduce the shock, try to avoid high-speed exercise. The faster you go, the harder your feet will hit the floor, creating shock waves. Your cardio workout will be just as effective if you do more repetitions of the same exercise. A longer but slower workout can actually increase your fitness more than a short one focused on speed.

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Keeping your knees nimble is crucial to staying active for longer. Doing some of these exercises daily will mean you’re easily able to move around without constant joint pain without the need for constant painkillers.

It’s also a great idea to adopt a healthy diet. Vegetables that contain calcium will strengthen your bones, ensuring they don’t become brittle and oily fish can make your joints more versatile.

A healthy diet can also help you to maintain a healthy physique and keep the weight off, even if you’re not as active as you used to be. Sticking to a healthy weight will take the strain off your knees, too—every little help.