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Sitting exercises

Gentle sitting exercises that can be done at home to help improve mobility and prevent falls.

These gentle sitting exercises will help improve your mobility and prevent falls, and can even be done at home.

Don't worry if you've not done much for a while – these seated exercises are gentle and easy to follow.

For these exercises, choose a solid, stable chair that doesn't have wheels.

You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at right angles. Avoid chairs with arms, as these will restrict your movement.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water handy.

Build up slowly and aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.

Try to do these exercises at least twice a week and combine them with the other routines in this series:

Chest stretch

This stretch is good for posture.

A. Sit upright and away from the back of the chair. Pull your shoulders back and down. Extend your arms out to the side.

B. Gently push your chest forward and up until you feel a stretch across your chest.

Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Upper-body twist

This stretch will develop and maintain flexibility in the upper back.

A. Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and reach for your shoulders.

B. Without moving your hips, turn your upper body to the left as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds.

C. Repeat on the right side.

Do 5 times on each side.

Hip marching

This exercise will strengthen hips and thighs, and improve flexibility.

A. Sit upright and do not lean on the back of the chair. Hold on to the sides of the chair.

B. Lift your left leg with your knee bent as far as is comfortable. Place your foot down with control.

C. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Do 5 lifts with each leg.

Ankle stretch

This stretch will improve ankle flexibility and lower the risk of developing a blood clot.

A. Sit upright, hold on to the side of the chair and straighten your left leg with your foot off the floor.

B. With your leg straight and raised, point your toes away from you.

C. Point your toes back towards you.

Try 2 sets of 5 stretches with each foot.

Arm raises

This exercise builds shoulder strength.

A. Sit upright with your arms by your sides.

B. With palms forwards, raise both arms out and to the side, and up as far as is comfortable. 

C. Return to the starting position.

Keep your shoulders down and arms straight throughout. Breathe out as you raise your arms and breathe in as you lower them. Repeat 5 times.

Neck rotation

This stretch is good for improving neck mobility and flexibility.

A. Sit upright with your shoulders down. Look straight ahead.

B. Slowly turn your head towards your left shoulder as far as is comfortable. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.

C. Repeat on the right.

Do 3 rotations on each side.

Neck stretch

This stretch is good for loosening tight neck muscles.

A. Sitting upright, look straight ahead and hold your left shoulder down with your right hand.

B. Slowly tilt your head to the right while holding your shoulder down.

C. Repeat on the opposite side.

Hold each stretch for 5 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.

Download this exercise routine as a PDF (975kb)

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