9 At-Home Hip Strengthening Exercises for Seniors


Tammy George

A group of senior women laughing together after completing hip strengthening exercises.

Exercise is important at all life stages, but none more so than later in life. For seniors to benefit, they don’t necessarily need to do exercises that require high energy.

We’ve put together a list of exercises that work the muscles around the hip area. The exercises can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home, so there’s no need to drive anywhere or use special equipment to improve your hip strength.

The Benefits of Strong Hips

As kids and adults, we need strong hip muscles to run, jump and play our favourite sports. Hips provide the power and force the lower body needs to generate for many movements.

The hip area has four groups of muscles - the abductor group, the gluteal group, the iliopsoas group and the lateral rotator group. These muscles absorb more shock than any other part of the body. Weak hip muscles lead to overuse injuries in active people, but in our senior years, strong hips have even more benefits.

Preventing Falls

Strong hips improve balance. A fall in our later years is more difficult to bounce back from, especially as a broken or fractured hip can cause a loss of mobility, as well as a reduction in independence and enjoyment of life. Some elderly people have to begin living in aged care after a hip fracture or break, while some may need to stay in hospital for longer than usual as a result of their injury.

A senior reaches for their walking cane after having a fall because they didn’t complete their hip strengthening exercises.

Better Mobility

In our senior years, it’s harder to walk and stand for lengthy periods. Getting up from a chair and getting out of the car can also prove challenging, but a strong pelvis helps keep seniors mobile and active for longer.

Reduced Pain

Strong hip muscles reduce the chance of experiencing hip pain. When hip pain is severe, it impacts on a senior’s gait, posture, ability to stand for long periods and daily living. A large percentage of seniors complain of knee pain, though what many don’t realise is that their dysfunctional hip muscles may be to blame. Poor hip strength can also cause back pain, shin splints and foot pain.

Improved Bone Density

Exercise in later years reduces bone loss and contributes to better bone density. A fall or injury is less likely to lead to fractures and breaks when bones are strong. Good bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

An elderly woman happily swimming because she has strong hips.

Hip Strengthening Exercises to Try at Home

It’s important to stay safe while exercising. Use a chair or a sturdy object as a support. If you start to feel dizzy or off-balance, stop exercising and rest. Not all exercises are ideal for everyone. Before starting any new exercise program, check with your GP.

#1 Butterfly Pose

In a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together while sitting up straight and pulling in your abs. Grab hold of each foot with your hands and place elbows against your inner thighs. Inhale and as you exhale, slowly lower your torso forward and pause when you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

The butterfly pose is an effective pose that targets:

  • Hip flexors

  • Entire hip complex

  • Inner and outer thighs

The benefits of holding the butterfly pose can include reducing hip pain caused by tight hip muscles and relieving lower back pain.

A group of seniors doing hip strengthening exercises during an exercise class.

#2 Hip Abduction Exercise

Stand upright and place your hands on the back of a chair. Slowly raise one leg off the ground and hold for three seconds before returning to the centre. Repeat five times before switching legs. 

This hip abduction exercise targets your abductor muscles and is ideal for anyone who finds it difficult to get up and down from the ground. This exercise requires you to use a chair as a support while you do the exercise standing up. The hip abductor muscles help with stability while walking and standing on one leg.

#3 Standing Hip Flexor Exercise

With your feet standing apart and both hands on your hip, step your foot forward. Slowly bend your left knee while lifting your right heel off the ground. Lean forward while squeezing your right glute and hold for 30 seconds. Return to the standing position and repeat with the other leg.

This standing hip flexor exercise targets your front hip flexors, helping to build hip flexor strength and reducing back pain.

A nurse helping a senior woman do hip strengthening exercises from her couch.

#4 Prone Straight Leg Raise

Lie faced down on a mat while sucking in your core muscles. Slowly lift one leg up while keeping your stomach on the mat and squeezing your glute muscles. Hold for 3 seconds before lowering your leg. Repeat several times before swapping to the other leg.

This prone straight leg raise targets your hip flexor and is a common exercise for post-hip surgery patients as it helps to relieve hip pain.

#5 Hip Raises

While lying on your side on your mat, raise your top leg then slowly bring it down to meet the other leg for a count of 5. Repeat five times. Roll on to your other side and repeat raising the other leg.

Hip raises target your obliques and help to stabilise the pelvis and lower back.

#6 Hip Marches

This is an ideal exercise for any seniors who are concerned about exercising on their feet for fear of a fall. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back against the chair and maintain proper posture. Lift one knee as high as is comfortable then lower it. Repeat 10 times then swap and lift the other knee. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.

Hip marches target your glutes and hamstring muscles, helping to increase core stability and enhance the ability to walk, as well as aiding to relieve hip and knee pain.

A senior woman doing a bridge to help strengthen her hips.

#7 Bridges

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Squeeze the glute muscles and lift your hips up without arching your back. Hold for three seconds at the top then lower the hips back down. Repeat 10 times.

Bridges target your glute muscles and help to build strength for walking, standing from seated position and climbing stairs.

#8 Clamshells

Place a resistance band around both thighs. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Push your knees out to the side against the band, hold for three seconds and then bring your knees back together. Repeat 10 times.

Clamshells also target your glute muscles, providing support for the pelvis and improving standing balance.

#9 Sit-to-Stand

Sit in a chair with a medium to hard seat. Lean your body forward then push yourself up from the chair, trying not to use your hands to help you push up from the seat. Once fully extended, squeeze your glutes. Push your hips back slowly and lower yourself back on to the chair gently. Repeat 10 times.

This sit-to-stand exercise targets the glute muscles, working to strengthen your glutes and core muscles. This helps with standing up from the seated position and getting out of the car.

Expert Advice for Your Hips

Through our partnership with Kieser centres, eligible HIF members with Hospital cover can now access Kieser's hip osteoarthritis program, knee osteoarthritis program and spinal program with the costs covered. Other services provided at Kieser centres, outside of the programs listed, may be covered under your normal extras policy. For full eligibility criteria please visit our Kieser webpage

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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