The Best Way to Improve Senior Mobility: the Sit to Stand Exercise

This simple home exercise is the best for mobility and independence

The ability to stand up from a chair makes a huge difference in everyday life for seniors. It helps with essential activities like getting up from the toilet, out of bed, and out of a chair.

That’s why the sit to stand exercise is probably the best of the mobility exercises for seniors. It’s a functional exercise for that exact movement and strengthens leg, core, and back muscles – all needed to increase mobility and independence as well as improve balance.

Plus, it’s an exercise that needs no equipment and can be done anywhere you can put a chair.

We found a straightforward video from Eldergym that shows how to do the basic sit to stand exercise as well as how to make it more challenging as seniors gain strength.

We give an overview of the exercise instructions, recommendations for how many repetitions to do, and tips on how to keep your older adult safe while exercising.




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How to do the sit to stand exercise

The video demonstrates how to do the basic exercise, then adds various elements to increase the difficulty as your older adult gains strength.

Equipment needed
A sturdy chair that won’t slide on the floor

Optional for more advanced levels: a flat pillow, foam balance pad, ball/similar object

1. Basic sit to stand exercise (1 min 5 sec in video)

  1. Scoot/walk hips up to the edge of the chair
  2. Bring toes back underneath knees
  3. Optional: Use arms to push off the chair or off of knees
  4. Lean forward a little to bring nose over toes and push up with legs to a standing position
  5. To sit, bend a little at the knees to push hips toward chair and lower the body to a seated position
  6. Pause before doing the next repetition

Safety tip: In step 3, he mentions holding onto a walker or chair to help with standing. We don’t recommend this because pulling or pushing on a walker or cane can cause the legs to slip, which then causes older adults to fall. In the video, he’s doing it more safely with one hand on the chair and one hand on the walker/cane, but doing this tends to lead to unsafe habits, like using two hands on a walker or cane.

2. Intermediate level sit to stand exercise (2 minutes 30 seconds in video)

  • Do the same steps as in the basic exercise and keep arms crossed over chest the whole time

3. Advanced level sit to stand exercise (3 minutes 14 seconds in video)

  • Do the same steps as in the intermediate exercise and place a relatively flat pillow under the feet to challenge balance

4. Super advanced level sit to stand exercise (4 minutes 13 seconds in video)

  • Do the same steps as in the advanced exercise and hold a lightweight ball (or similar object) in front of the body, about chest height

 

Recommended repetitions

The video recommends doing 10 repetitions of exercise every day, if possible. But each person’s health and strength is at a different level, so it’s important to do what works best for them.

To determine the ideal number of repetitions for your older adult, gauge their ability while doing the basic version of the exercise. For example, if doing 2 repetitions of sit/stand is quite challenging, then that’s their current limit.

Your older adult should be able to complete their number of repetitions without getting so tired that they’re weak or off balance. But they should be using effort and getting a bit tired since the goal is to work their muscles.

Over time, slowly build up to 10 or more repetitions and increase the difficulty when the exercise isn’t challenging enough.

 

Safety during exercise is the top priority

Safety is number 1! The most important thing is that your older adult doesn’t fall or hurt themselves while exercising.

For older adults who are unsteady on their feet, we recommend having them wear a gait belt while you stand next to them and lightly hold on to the belt while they do their exercises. That way, you can provide instant stability in case they get off balance.

 

Next Step  Get a quick demonstration of how to do the sit to stand exercise (6 minutes)

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Coastal Home Physio

 

This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain some affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.


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