Chair Exercises

5 chair-based exercises you can do at home

A little exercise at home every day can make a world of difference. Maintaining your sense of balance as you get older is essential for good health. It prevents frailty and keeps you mentally and emotionally fit. The way to maintain balance is to keep the flexibility and strength in your muscles through weight bearing exercises.

Exercise that bears weight doesn’t just keep your muscles and bones strong, it keeps the fluid circulating in the joints, keeping them mobile. You’ll maintain muscle mass and bone density which leads to a better sense of balance.

Our physiotherapist Joe Wallace-Ellis spends most of his time with our home care clients, helping them to stay fit and well. He’s compiled five simple exercises that you can do at home while sitting in a chair, to gently build strength, flexibility and balance needed for simple everyday tasks.

Why is regular exercise important as to get older?

Regular exercise nourishes every cell in the body. It boosts your immune system, lubricates your joints, massages your muscles and stimulates your brain. Even with conditions such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, comprehensive research suggests that through exercise, your bones strengthen, and your joints improve their lubricating properties regardless of these age-related changes.

Your body wants and needs movement, regardless of your age or condition. It takes a little courage to find how capable your body is and with the help of the St Louis physio team, we’ll help you take the first step.

We’ll develop an exercise program that you enjoy doing and helps you where you need it most.

Exercise prevents frailty and accidents as you age

At least one-third of people aged 65 years and over fall once or more annually and this is preventable. Research has shown that the best remedy for prevention of falls is exercise. If you stop exercising, your muscles lose strength and flexibility, and your balance is affected, increasing the risk of falling.

When you fall, it is normal to be afraid of doing any further exercise particularly if you’ve been told that your body is deteriorating through age related changes. Therefore, if you haven’t exercised for a while, a safe way to start is with the following five chair-based exercises.

If you feel uncomfortable about trying these exercises at home on your own, speak to your home care coordinator for assistance. They can arrange for your carer to help you get started, or be at home with you while you are doing the exercises.

5 simple chair-based exercises

1. Shoulders exercises

These will help you to reach up, down and out for objects.

Reach down low and touch your toes or as far as you can go, then reach up high and touch your nose (or head). Reach up high to the sky, then reach down low and pat your thigh. Repeat 5-10 times.


2. Leg extensions with ankle circles

To develop balance and fluidity in your ankles and strength in your upper legs.

Sit comfortably toward the edge of the chair with an upright posture. Place your feet evenly on the floor, about hip width apart. Lift each leg one at a time, stretching it forward. Try drawing your name with your ankle (makes it more fun). Repeat 5-10 times.


3. Seated calf raises and toe ups

To develop strength in your calves and to maintain flexibility in your feet.

Sit comfortably in a chair. Keeping your back straight, facing forward. Place your hands on your thighs and lift your heels off the ground then your toes off the ground. Repeat 15-20 times.


4. Marching in your chair

To maintain strength in your hips and pelvis.

From the same seating position as in Number 3 above, move your feet one at a time as if you are marching on the spot. This will improve muscle strength in your hips.


5. Sit to stand squat

To maintain strength and balance so that you can sit down and get up easily.

Come to the edge of the chair, bring your feet behind the knees. Lean your weight forward until your nose is past your toes. Slowly move your weight onto your legs and stand up. Arms come forward at the same time to help you balance.

Come to a complete stand. Then gradually sit back down. If this is difficult, you can also do this exercise by using the kitchen table to support you as you stand.

Repeat 5-10 times.


Don’t forget the benefits of a good walk – all you need is 15-20 mins a day

Exercise ideally should consist of both weight bearing and cardiovascular movement such as walking.

Walking has a wide range of benefits from lifting your mood to preventing a stroke. Just 20 minutes of walking per day can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Whatever you need to get out walking, we’ll help you. The fresh air and outdoors will help you feel better immediately. Talk to St Louis about our “Walk n Talk” programs or any mobility aids that you may need.

Use your home care package to develop an exercise program at home

Did you know you can use your home care package to help you get stronger and fitter? Our physiotherapists will develop a program to suit your specific needs, in conjunction with your GP and other allied health professionals involved in your care.

Please call St Louis Home Care in Adelaide on 8332 0950 or St Louis Home Care in Victor Harbor 8552 1481 to find out more.