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Sitting exercises

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

If you have not done much exercise for a while, these seated exercises are gentle and easy to follow. If you’re not sure if they’re suitable for you, check with a GP or a health professional involved with your care.

For these exercises, choose a solid, stable chair that does not 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

A seated man stretching his arms out on either side of his body, with his hands at hip level

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

A seated man crossing his arms and then twisting his upper body to his left

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

A seated man raising his left foot about 10 cm off the floor, with his right foot remaining on the floorht

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

A seated man is lifting his left leg up off the floor and flexing and then pointing his  left foot.

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.

Neck rotation

A man looking straight ahead, then turning his head to the left and then to the right

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.

Page last reviewed: 18 January 2024
Next review due: 18 January 2027