The ability to stand up from a chair is a key skill to maintain independence and mobility. As you get older you lose strength in the hip and knee extensors which are the muscles that help straighten our legs. In this blog I am first going to discuss how to get out of a chair safely before going on to describe some exercises to strengthen the legs.

How to stand up safely

  1. Move your bottom to the edge of the chair.
  2. Place both feet  flat on the floor.
  3. Place both hands on the arm rests of the chair. If there are no arm rests, then place both hands on the edge of the chair.
  4. Lean forward so that your nose is over your toes.
  5. Start to push down through your arms.
  6. As you are pushing down through your arms, begin straightening your legs.
  7. Let go of the chair and finish straightening your legs

To be able to stand up from a chair without assistance requires strong leg muscles. The following exercises practiced a few times a week will help impove your ability to stand from your chair. Before doing the exercises march in place in your chair for a couple of minutes, this will help restore mobility to the hip joint and also warm up the leg muscles.

Seated Leg extensions (can aggravate osteoarthritis)

  1. Sit on chair with feet flat infront of you, palms holding chair edge at sides or front.
  2. Keeping left foot on floor and upper body still, slowly extend the right leg (bending from the knee) until it is parallel with the floor. Hold here for 2 counts
  3. Bend knee to lower right leg back to floor.
  4. Repeat 10 times and then change legs.

Standing Gluteal Kick backs

  1. Stand behind a high backed chair holding on the back for balance. Avoid leaning forward during the exercise.
  2. Lift one leg behind you keeping the raised leg straight but have a slight bend in the leg you are standing on. Hold for a count of 5.
  3. Slowly lower leg.
  4. Repeat 10 times and then change legs.

Seated Calf raises

  1. Start by sitting upright in a high backed chair with your back straight and your legs bent so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  2. Press your legs upward so that your heels are off the ground and only your toes and the balls of the top of your foot are still in contact with the floor.
  3. Hold at the top of the movement for two seconds, and slowly lower back down.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Sit to Stand

  1. Sit in a high backed chair and slide forward as far as possible
  2. Move your feet back so your heels are lined up with the front edge of the chair.
  3. Use your bottom and legs to stand up. Try only to use your hands on the chair for balance if necessary. If this is too difficult then you can put some cushions to raise the level of the seat.
  4. Repeat 5 times. If possible practice this exercise daily.

These exercises will not only help you stand from a chair unassisted but also improve your ability to walk up and down stairs, reach for something on a high shelf and improve your balance.

Before starting any new exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise changes with them.

This article has been previously published here: Whole Life Fitness



Having worked in IT in London for 15 years I was made redundant in 2009. I had trained as a gym instructor whilst working and decided I would rather spend the rest of my career doing something I loved than look for another job in IT. I furthered my qualifications with a Certificate in Advanced Personal Training from the highly regarded Premier Training. Many personal trainers are generalists covering all areas of fitness but I took the decision to specialise in the over-50s and therefore went on to do a CYQ Award in Functional Training for the Independent Older Adult Level 3. My focus is on overall health rather than fitness. I believe that making small changes can have a long term positive effect on health and well-being.

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