Do you have difficulties getting out of a chair?

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. Push down through your arms as you help unload your weight off the chair.
  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.

If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s This will open a new browser window.

By strengthening your ankles you can improve balance and reduce risk of injury.

In this blog I am going to concentrate on ankle exercises. Ankles provide the base for all movement therefore strong ankles can lead to better balance and reduce the likelihood of injuries and falls. Balance is the ability to maintain control on the base of support to avoid falling and this is important whether you just walk to the door or play tennis every day.

Seated alphabet ankle exercise

  1. Whilst sitting raise your right leg and using the ankle trace the letters of the alphabet from A-Z, imagining your big toe as a writing instrument.
  2. Change legs and repeat.

Seated ankle circles

  1. Slowly move your right foot in a circle moving clockwise. Repeat this movement six times.
  2. Then slowly move the same foot in a circle counter-clockwise. Repeat this movement six times.
  3. Repeat the entire exercise with the left foot.

Standing ankle exercise

  1. If needed use wall or chair for support, rise up onto the toes.
  2. Hold for 8 counts
  3. Lower heels to the floor in a controlled manner
  4. Repeat 4 times

Seated ankle exercise

  1. Sit back into the chair for support
  2. Sit tall with good posture, your thighs should be together and your knees bent with feet apart
  3. Keeping knees together, and with heels on the floor lift your toes towards the knees. This is the starting position
  4. Rotate both feet inwards, lifting toes towards the knees so toes point towards each other – hold for a few seconds
  5. Place feet on floor and gently slide feet along back to start position
  6. Build up repetitions as ankle strength increases.

Advanced ankle exercise

  1. Whilst balancing on one leg, using chair or wall for support if needed, rise up on toes
  2. Hold for 8 counts (work up to this if necessary)
  3. Lower heel to the floor in a controlled manner
  4. Repeat 4 times and then switch feet.

So 5 exercises that require no warm up and take 5 minutes of your day, you could do 3 of them whilst watching TV in the evening. By strengthening the muscles in the ankle you will have you a greater ability to maintain your balance and help avoid that trip to A&E discussed in the previous blog.

If  you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise and the over-50s please post a comment.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s This will open a new browser window.

Every year over 400,000 older people in England attend A&E departments following a fall.

Falls are a major health problem among older adults. Every year over 400,000 older people in England attend A&E departments following a fall. 30% of over 65yrs will fall each year, rising to 50% of 85yr olds[i].

Why does the risk of falling increase?

  • Deterioration in muscle strength and balance
  • Failing vision
  •  Medication which can increase the risk of, or be the cause of, falls[ii]

Research has shown that just the fear of falling can increase the risk of falling [iii]. Women have the added problem of osteoporosis which places them at greater risk of breaking a bone if they do have a fall. Most falls take place when performing everyday activities and it is estimated that 30-40% of falls can be avoided.

So how can you reduce the risk of falls?

Balance and mobility training can reduce the risks of falling in later life. There have been 5 skills identified which are needed for better balance:

  • The ability to walk and turn the head at the same time
  •  The ability to extend the hip backwards
  • The ability to reach down and pick up something from the floor
  •  The ability to reach up above one’s head
  •  The ability to stand on one foot for five seconds

These provide a guideline to plan a personalised exercise program which should also include posture exercises and stretching.

To challenge balance it could be as simple as changing the base of support from standing on a firm surface such as the floor to standing on a foam base. The challenge should gradually increase as balance improves such as combining changing base of support with movement i.e. standing on a wobble board whilst reaching up to be passed an object or to catch a ball. Balance and mobility exercises also include such activities as marching on the spot, calf raises, balance on one leg with support and step up and step down to name but a few.

Balance and mobility exercises have positive effects on everyday activities such as:

  • Improve the ability to stand on a bus or train as they help develop the ability to maintain and regain balance
  • Walking in poor lighting as they improve non-visual sensory input for better balance
  • Going for a walk in the park, over cobble stones or pavements as they help to maintain and regain balance when ground levels change or when stepping over and around obstacles
  •  Climbing up and down stairs as they increase leg strength and core stability

Other activities which can help (in addition to specific balance exercises) are walking, water workouts, tai chi[iv] or yoga. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, co-ordination and flexibility.

Falls can be devastating to the affected individual and in some cases cause death. Even lesser falls can lead to loss of self-confidence and reduced quality of life.

My next blog  will describe some balance and mobility exercises that you can do at home. If you have any questions please post a comment.

Staying Steady – Age UK

Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over-50s

[i] ( DOH 2001)




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