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

The Sit to Stand 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.

Those muscles are needed to increase mobility and independence as well as improve balance.

Plus, no equipment is needed and it can be done anywhere you can put a chair.

We found a straightforward and free 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.


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 could cause a 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 to pull 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


Find the ideal number of 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 figure out 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)


Recommended for you:


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Chilterns MS Centre


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.


  • Reply January 10, 2022


    What is the proper way to help an elderly patient from sitting to standing? My mom is 93 and I have seen her grabbed under one armpit and pulled to her feet.

  • Reply August 23, 2021


    where is the link button?

    • Reply August 23, 2021


      The “image” at the top of the page is a video player. To see the video, press the triangle play button in the middle. In the article, any blue text that’s underlined is a link that you can click. At the end of the article, the link after “Next Step” will take you to the video on YouTube.

  • Reply July 30, 2021

    Christine W

    Good stand to sit
    But my knees are both bent forward from falling out of my car in Jan. Have been helped some by therapist nurse sent to house. She has been gone now and I feel scared to help with crooked knees and walking with walker. Any thing need to do besides up down sitting to overcome my fear? I walked almost normal before fall

  • Reply February 23, 2021

    J. Gibbons

    Thank you for this; exercises I can do safely alone. I am so grateful.

    • Reply February 23, 2021


      You’re very welcome! We’re so glad these exercises are helpful.

  • Reply September 27, 2020

    Carol-Ann Lamothe

    I will do this daily. Thank you for this great advice.

  • Reply July 28, 2020

    Susan Jenny

    Very helpful and friendly besides!

  • Reply March 16, 2020


    I didn’t realize my problem of standing from a seated position was an issue for many other folks. I will certainly practice the exercises you have shown me.

  • Reply January 28, 2019


    Thanks so much, just what I need

  • Reply January 2, 2019

    Sherry Morez

    Great advice! Thank you!!

    • Reply January 2, 2019


      You’re very welcome! So glad it’s helpful 🙂

      • Reply September 1, 2019


        Love this! Such good and practical suggestions!,

  • […] Stuck in your chair? Unfortunately, with age you may have difficulty standing up from a seated position. For tips on improving mobility and safely getting up and out of your chair, click here. […]

Leave a Reply