Strength exercises

Strength exercises like these can be done at home to help improve your health and mobility.

  • wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water handy
  • if you're not very active, you may want to get the all-clear from a GP before starting

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

For these chair-based exercises, choose a chair that is stable, solid and without 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 this will restrict your movement.

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 to help improve strength, balance and co-ordination.

Download this exercise routine as a PDF (1.2mb)

 

Sit-to-stand

This exercise is good for improving leg strength.

A. Sit on the edge of the chair, feet hip-width apart. Lean slightly forwards.

B. Stand up slowly using your legs, not arms. Keep looking forward and don't look down.

C. Stand upright before slowly sitting down, bottom-first.

Aim for five repetitions  the slower the better.

 

Mini-squats

A. Rest your hands on the back of the chair for stability and stand with your feet hip-width apart.

B. Slowly bend your knees as far as is comfortable, keeping them facing forwards. Aim to get them over your big toe. Keep your back straight at all times.

C. Gently come up to standing, squeezing your buttocks as you do so.

Repeat five times.

 

Calf raises

A. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.

B. Lift both heels off the floor as far as is comfortable. The movement should be slow and controlled. Repeat five times.

To make this more difficult, perform the exercise without support.

 

Sideways leg lift

A. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.

B. Raise your left leg to the side as far as is comfortable, keeping your back and hips straight. Avoid tilting to the right.

C. Return to the starting position. Now raise your right leg to the side as far as possible.

Raise and lower each leg five times.

 

Leg extension

A. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.

B. Standing upright, raise your left leg backwards, keeping it straight. Avoid arching your back as you take your leg back. You should feel the effort in the back of your thigh and bottom.

C. Repeat with the other leg.

Hold the lift for up to five seconds and repeat five times with each leg.

 

Wall press-up

A. Stand arm's length from the wall. Place your hands flat against the wall at chest level with your fingers pointing upwards.

B. With your back straight, slowly bend your arms keeping your elbows by your side. Aim to close the gap between you and the wall as much as you can.

C. Slowly return to the start.

Attempt three sets of five to 10 repetitions.

 

Bicep curls

A. Hold a pair of light weights (filled water bottles will do) and stand with your feet hip-width apart.

B. Keeping your arms by your side, slowly bend them until the weight in your hand reaches your shoulder.

C. Slowly lower again.

This can also be carried out while sitting. Attempt three sets of five curls with each arm.

Page last reviewed: 26/11/2012

Next review due: 26/11/2014

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