As the largest joint in your body, your hips play a central role in healthy aging. These mighty structures enable you to perform a wide range of daily activities, from standing to walking to climbing stairs. So it’s hardly surprising that hip weakness and pain can be debilitating to your everyday life which is these hip exercises for seniors should not be missed.
It’s never too late to turn things around. Regularly strengthening the hip muscles with targeted exercises is the best way to stay healthy and mobile. Start by incorporating these nine hip-strengthening exercises into your routine.
What are the hip muscles?
The ball-and-socket joints of your hips are supported by a number of muscles. Noteworthy ones include: the glutes (gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus), hip flexors (iliacus, psoas major, rectus femoris, sartorius), and adductors (adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, pectineus).
Glutes: These muscles are essentially the buttocks. They extend and rotate the thigh outward, stabilize the pelvis, power forward motion, and keep you upright.Hip flexors: The hip flexors are a group of muscles in the front of the hip that help bend your hips and knees. Adductors: This group of muscles can be found along your inner thighs. They move your legs toward the center of your body (adduction) and help stabilize your pelvis.
Resistance training is not only the best way to shore up weak hip muscles, it also gets top marks for building bone density, according to a research review. The stronger your muscles and bones, the lower your risk of falling and fracturing your hip. Movement in general is also important for strengthening a weak hip, so be sure to include activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, gardening, and playing pickleball into your routine.
Whether you stick to bodyweight only or incorporate bands and dumbbells, any exercise that forces your hip muscles to resist force will strengthen the hips. Check out the nine hip exercises for seniors below for specific recommendations!
It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing hip pain. They can help you identify the cause of your pain and come up with a personalized treatment plan. But in the meantime, you can try light stretches and yoga poses that open up tight hips (ex., Bridge Pose, Crescent Lunge), hip-strengthening exercises (like the ones below), and low-impact activities (ex., swimming, walking, yoga). Be sure to read our guide for hip bursitis if you suspect you may be experiencing this condition.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that help you bend your hips and knees. It’s fairly common for these muscles to get short and tight if you spend a lot of time sitting, running, or biking. To loosen your hip flexors, make sure to stand up and move frequently throughout the day. You can also incorporate hip opening stretches and yoga poses like Bridge Pose, Pigeon Pose, Butterfly Pose, Crescent Lunge, and Runner’s Lunge.
Senior Exercise Safety
If stability is a problem for you, feel free to grab a chair, couch or even the wall to hold onto while performing these standing exercises. The more you do these hip exercises for seniors, the more you will develop stability and balance.
You can also practice modifications for any exercise that feels too difficul or puts additional stress on your joints. These exercise are designed for seniors and thus we have kept things low-impact, however, listen to your body and feel free to modify as necessary. And remember, low impact doesn’t mean ineffective! All of the exercises below will help to strengthen your hips and keep living the life you want!
The 9 Best Hip Exercises for Seniors
Now that you know what the hip muscles are and why it’s important to keep them strong, let’s dive into our 9 best hip exercises for seniors to incorporate into your routine. While there are dozens of moves you can choose from, the following moves are specifically targeted for seniors.
For best results, perform hip-strengthening exercises like the ones below a couple of times each week.
1. Glute Bridge
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.Engage your abdominals, push your feet into the floor, and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips.Your knees, hips, and shoulders should be aligned in the top position. Lower your hips to the floor with control. Perform 10 repetitions, 3 sets.
2. Glute Squeeze
Stand behind a low step with your right foot resting on top. Place your right hand on a wall or banister for support. Press into the right foot to straighten your right leg. As you do, lift the left leg straight behind you, squeezing the left glute.Return the left foot to the floor and repeat. Do all repetitions on one leg before switching sides. Preform 10 repetitions, 3 sets each leg.
If this move is too challenging, omit the step and simply lift one leg straight behind you.
3. Leg Lift
Straight Leg Leg Lift
Get on all-fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Extend your right leg behind you and flex your right foot so your weight is on your toes.Squeeze your right glute and hamstring to lift your right heel toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep your abs tight and back straight.Slowly lower your right foot to the floor and repeat 10 times, 3 sets. Switch sides.
4. Fire Hydrant
Get on all-fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Engage the outer thigh muscles and glutes to lift your left knee to the side. Keep your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and torso facing the floor.Slowly lower your left knee and repeat 10 times, 3 sets. Switch sides.
5. Lateral Banded Walk
Lateral Banded Walks – 2 Different Ways with the Resistance Band
Wrap a resistance band around your legs, just above the knees. Stand with feet hip-width apart; you should feel mild-to-moderate tension in the resistance band. Soften your knees. Engage your outer thigh muscles and glutes to step the left foot to the left. Follow with the right foot so your feet are hip-width apart again. Step 10 times to the left, and 10 times to the right. Do three sets. Avoid rocking motions as you side-step.
Sit to Stand
Sit in a chair with feet hip-width apart on the floor.Keeping your back straight and chest lifted, push your feet into the floor to stand. Return to a seated position with control. Perform 10 repetitions, 3 sets. Try not to use your arms as you sit and stand, unless needed.
7. Side-Lying Leg Lift
Side Lying Leg Lift With and Without A Resistance Band
Lie on your right side with both legs extended, feet flexed. Use a pillow or support your head with your right hand. Place your left hand on the floor in front of your torso to help you stabilize.Keeping your feet flexed, engage the outer thigh muscles and glutes to lift your left leg as high as is comfortable.Slowly lower your left leg. Preform 10 repetitions, 3 sets. Do all reps on one side before switching to other leg and repeat.
To make this exercise harder, loop a small resistance band around your ankles.
8. Side Lunge
Side/ Lateral Lunge
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward.Shift your body weight to the right leg. Push your glutes back and bend the right knee until it reaches a 90-degree angle and the left leg is straight.Return to the starting position. Alternate sides doing 10 repetitions, 3 sets.
Clamshell with and without a resistance band
Lie on your right side with your knees bent and hips stacked. Use a pillow or support your head with your right hand. Place your left hand on the floor in front of your torso to help you stabilize.Keeping your heels glued together, engage the outer thigh muscles and glutes to lift your left knee as high as is comfortable.Slowly lower your left knee. Perform 10 repetitions, 3 sets. Do all reps on one side before switching.To make the exercise harder, loop a small resistance band around your thighs, just above the knee.
Make sure to add these hip exercises for seniors into your regular routine in order to strengthen your hips and ward off injury!
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