How To Move Without Pain

women in red sweater standing up from a chair

Difficulty Getting out of a Chair – Tips Inside

Difficulty Getting out of a Chair: Tips Inside

by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP

This article takes 6 minutes to read

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The ability to stand up from a chair makes a huge difference in everyday life for our aging parents, grandparents, and older neighbors.  The ability to move from sit to stand, walk around our home, and leave our homes has a great effect on our independence as we age and our overall safety. 

Transitioning from sit to stand is essential for activities like getting up from the toilet, out of bed, and out of a chair.  The difficulty of this activity can progress as we age, especially with changes to our strength, pain in a weight-bearing joint (such as ankle, knee, or hip), stiffness, and changes to our balance.

One of the best ways to improve our ability to go from sitting to standing is to practice.  Not only is this the MOST functional exercise for that exact movement, it also strengthens the legs, core, and back muscles to move freely in (and getting out of) our homes, the car, and favorite chair.

Our legs, back, core muscles are needed to increase mobility and independence as well as balance.  A common test that a physical therapist may do to assess your leg strength and endurance is to see how many times you can perform a sit to stand (without arms) in 30 seconds.  The table below shows what would be considered a below average score.

A below average score could indicate an increased risk for falls.






< 14

< 12


< 12

< 11


< 12

< 10


< 11

< 10


< 10

< 9


< 8

< 8


< 7

< 4


The best news about practicing sitting to standing as an exercise, no equipment is needed and it can be done anywhere you can put a chair.

Tips to improve the ability to stand from a chair

  • Scoot hips up to the edge of the chair.
  • Bring toes back underneath knees.
  • Put hands-on armrests
  • Lean forward a little to bring nose over toes and push up with legs to a standing position.
  • Beginning level sit to stand exercise

Repeat sit to stand from a firm chair, like a kitchen chair 

Complete 10 times and progress to being able to complete up to 20 times (under controlled speed – avoid using momentum with repetitions as this will reduce the muscle effort and therefore strengthening)

  • Intermediate level sit to stand exercise 

Do the same steps as in the basic exercise and put hands on knees instead of the armrests

  • Advanced level sit to stand exercise 

Do the same steps as in the basic exercise and keep arms crossed over chest the whole time

  • Super advanced level sit to stand exercise 

Do the same steps as in the advanced exercise and hold a lightweight ball in front of the body, about chest height

*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result.  This information is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional.  No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.

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women in red sweater standing up from a chair