11 easy exercises and stretches for strong, healthy knees

Prevent knee pain with these 11 stretches.
1. Wall sit. Do a wall sit when you're brushing your teeth, taking a break from work or before exercising. Whenever and wherever you do it, your knees will thank you. Women's Running explains posture is very important in this exercise. Your feet, hip-distance apart, should be approximately 2 feet in front of your body. Slide down the wall and stop when your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Hold the squat for 30 to 60 seconds, stand and repeat two more times for a total of three reps.
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2. Tip-over tuck. This exercise loosens the hamstrings and shoulders, thus alleviating pressure from the knees. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Interlock your fingers behind your back. With your legs straight, bend at the tips. Your hands should be over your head and your neck relaxed. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, as recommended by Women's Running. When you are finished, slowly roll up, one vertebrae at a time.
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3. Side lunge. The lateral muscles are integral to supporting the knee joint. Alternating side lunges strengthen the lateral muscles in the butt, hips and thighs. Women's Running says to begin with your feet directly under the hips. Step the right foot out wide and move into a lunge. Make sure the right knee does not extend over the toes. Hold the position for a moment and then use your muscles to return to standing. Lunge to the left, hold and repeat until you feel your muscles loosen.
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4. Straight leg raises. Do this exercise lying on your back. Place the right foot flat on the floor with the knee bent. Straighten the left leg and then raise it to the height of the right knee. Raise and lower 10 to 15 times and then switch to the left leg. WebMD recommends three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
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5. Hamstring curls. Standing behind a chair, slowly lift the heel toward your butt. Hold when you feel strain, lower and switch sides. If this is easy for you, add ankle weights or do the stretch lying on your stomach, as recommended by WebMD.
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6. Water aerobics. According to WebMD, the body is one-sixth its normal weight while in water. This means jogging and other aerobics in water have all the same benefits as exercising on land, minus the strain on the knees. If knee pain prevents you from doing cardio, get your aerobics in underwater.
7. Walk. If you do not yet have a regular exercise routine, make it a habit to walk for 15 to 30 minutes daily. A simple stroll around the neighborhood can have an enormous impact on your knee health, says Prevention.
8. Step-ups. While on your daily walk, keep an eye out for steps. According to Prevention, step-ups keep ligaments flexible. To do the exercise, place both feet on the step and slowly lower one foot to the floor. Tap the toe on the floor and return it to the step. Repeat 10 to 12 times and then switch sides.
9. Knee-to-thigh stretch. It is important to stretch the entire leg on a regular basis. Doing so helps support the health and function of the muscles that surround and work together with the knee. Prevention suggests sitting on the floor with both legs stretched outward. Place one leg in a butterfly position, with the toes pressing against the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Fold forward at the waist and reach your fingers toward your toes. Hold for one to two minutes before switching sides.
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10. Bent-leg raises. Sit in a chair and straighten one leg in the air. Hold for approximately one minute. When you're ready, slowly bend the knee and lower the leg halfway to the floor. Hold for another 30 seconds and then return the foot to touch the floor. Spark People says to repeat the exercises on both legs, working up to four reps on each side.
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11. Bike. Biking outdoors or on a stationary bike strengthens the knees and increases range of motion, says Spark People. Protect your knees while biking by keeping them bent at 15 degrees.
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Need more help with the moves? Check out the video below to watch these in action:
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