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Hip, hip hooray!

There’s more to strong hip and gluteal muscles than just looking great from behind—they can really make a difference in the way your body functions. Firm lower-body muscles will not only give more support to your back, thighs, knees and hips, they’ll also improve your balance and stability.

Stretching and strengthening the large muscles that surround and support your hips can keep all of these important joints in good condition. So grab a chair and try these two exercises, courtesy of the National Institute on Aging:

Back leg raise

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly.
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Try not to lean forward. The leg you’re standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold position for one second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg.
  7. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each leg again.

Side leg raise

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly.
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg to the side. Keep your back straight, toes facing forward. The leg you’re standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold position for one second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg.
  7. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each leg again.