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The most important exercise you can do!

Did you know, the simple Sit to Stand exercise is one of the most important exercises we can do as we get older? It’s easy to do, it only takes 30 seconds and all you need is a chair and a stopwatch or clock. Here’s why you should make it part of your daily routine.

As we get older, in fact from the age of 50 onwards, we naturally lose about 1% of our muscle mass every year which means our strength deteriorates too. Now, if you add inactivity into the mix, we lose strength at an even faster rate which can really affect our ability to stay active and independent. Reports have shown that a 10-day stay in hospital could lead to a 15% loss in strength.

Of course, we want to prevent having a stay in hospital in the first place! So we need to do activities that strengthen our muscles – which you might know are called resistance exercises. Getting up and down from your chair is a form of resistance training which you can do every day in the comfort of your own home. In fact, for 65 – 80 year olds, the sit to stand exercise has been shown to be just as effective as going to the gym to improve leg strength.  It’s also particularly helpful for those who can’t get out to take a brisk walk each day, or for those who live in homes without stairs to climb.

How to do the Sit to Stand

  • Put a strong upright chair with its back to the wall so the chair will not move
  • Sit up tall, towards the front of the chair with your feet hip width apart
  • Pull your feet back a little closer to the chair so they are lined up under your knees
  • Push into your heels and lift up out of the chair and then sit down again with control
  • Take note of how many you can do in 30 seconds and track how you improve

If you find this difficult then try putting a cushion under your bottom to lift yourself up a little higher before you get up from the chair. If you’re not used to exercising, just do a few and build up to do 30 seconds.

If you find this easy, try crossing your arms over your chest and repeating for one minute.

If you struggle with a sit to stand or find it painful then try simple leg raises instead.
  • Sit back in your chair
  • Raise one leg off the ground and hold for up to 10 seconds
  • Lower it slowly back down and repeat on the other leg
  • Try to do up to 10 repetitions on each leg

How do you compare?

See the table below to compare yourself to the average Sit to Stand scores for the general community dwelling population. If you live in care, or are recovering from illness or surgery, don’t be concerned if you are lower than average. The main thing is to track your own scores to see how you improve. It may encourage you to make sure you do this simple exercise regularly and you’ll soon see improvements!


Number of Stands – Women Number of Stands – Men

60 – 64

12 – 17

14 – 19

65 – 69

11 – 16

12 – 18

70 – 74

10 – 15

12 – 17

75 – 79

10 – 15

11 – 17

80 – 84

9 – 14

10 – 15

85 – 89

8 – 13

8 – 14

90 – 94 4 – 11

7 – 12

Scores referenced from Rikli and Jones (1999) study of 7,183 community dwelling individuals.


This is one of the most important exercises you can do to maintain your strength and independence.


Why not get out free support pack which has lots of ideas and videos to help you keep active at home just click here. 

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