Exercises for Healthy Knees

If you'd like to strengthen your knees, decrease knee pain, and improve your overall knee health, there are a variety of exercises that can help. Below are a number of exercises that you may want to consider as part of a knee strengthening program. Some of these exercises may not be suitable for everyone. Before beginning any exercise program, review with your physician or physical therapist to ensure you follow the safest and most effective plan. Let's dive deeper into some exercises for healthy knees.


Stand with your feet hip-width apart, take a large step forward with one leg, and descend until your rear knee almost touches the floor and your front knee is stacked directly above your ankle. You should form a 90-degree bend in both knees.

Leg Lifts

Lay down with your back on a mat. Raise your leg six inches off the ground, keeping your knee straight. Perform this exercise with each leg.

Knee Extension

Lay down with your back on a mat and bend one knee. Placing a pillow under the alternate knee, tighten your thigh muscles and lift your heel off the ground without lifting your knee off the pillow. Keep your knee straight and hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Perform this exercise with each foot.

Yoga and Pilates

A stronger back and core may place less stress on your knees. Yoga and Pilates offer exercises that are designed to strengthen your back and core while improving your flexibility, balance, and stability.

Ankle Pumps

Sitting on a bed or the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, flex your ankle up and down. Perform this exercise with each ankle.


Place your foot on a weight bench or high step so that one leg is at about a 90-degree angle. Next, bring your other foot up onto the surface. Alternate legs and if you are able to, use light weights to increase the intensity.

Heel Slides

Heel slides can be done lying down on your bed or sitting in a chair. When lying down, slide your heel toward your buttocks, bending your knee. Keep your heel on the bed and your kneecap pointed to the ceiling, moving your heel as close to your buttocks as you can. Hold this position for 5 seconds and return your leg to full extension after each slide. Repeat with other leg. When sitting down, use the arms of the chair for balance and slide your heel back towards the chair as far as you can, keeping your thigh firmly on the chair. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat with other leg.

Quadriceps Sets

Sitting on the floor, tighten your thigh muscles by pressing the back of your knee flat down to the floor. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds, performing this exercise with each thigh.


Using an elliptical machine is a great low-impact alternative to walking or jogging. It can help you burn calories, stimulate muscles, and strengthen your heart and lungs without placing excess stress on your knees.

These healthy knee exercises can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce pressure on your knees. A physical therapist can inform you of which exercises are suited for you and how many reps of each move you should complete.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Every patient's case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor's specific instructions. Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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