Hip exercises are commonly prescribed for older adults after hip injury or surgery. Even without hip problems, it's also a good idea to maintain muscle strength as we get older. Keeping muscles and balance tuned can help prevent falls and fractures.
Physical therapists at the University of Kentucky compared six different hip exercises for the gluteus medius muscle. This is a hip abductor (moves the leg away from the body). It's located on the outside of the hip.
Three of the exercises were done without putting weight on the leg. Three were done in the standing position while putting full weight on the leg. It turns out that the standing weight-bearing exercises activate the muscle the most.
Some examples include:
Face sideways on a stair while holding a banister for support. Place one leg on the stair and put your full weight on it. Keep both knees straight. Lower the other foot toward the next stair down by dropping your hip or pelvis down on that side. Return the
pelvis to a level position.
Stand with both legs about hip-width apart (or slightly less). Stand on the right leg. Keep the pelvis level. Move the left leg about six to eight inches away from the body. Return to the midline and repeat several times. Keep your hips level as you move your leg out to the side. Switch and repeat on the other side.
Repeat the exercise above keeping both hips and knees bent about 20 degrees.