Try the Chair Sit-to-Stand: Build Your Lower Body Strength and Maintain Independence with Yoga

As we get older, the ability to get up and down from a chair with ease is a critical skill to maintain if we want to maintain our independence, strength, and functionality. In this post, we'll explore why being able to get up and down from a chair is so important, and I'll give you a "test" to try out to assess where you're at!

Mikah Horn
Try the Chair Sit-to-Stand: Build Your Lower Body Strength and Maintain Independence with Yoga

Why is the Chair Sit-to-Stand important as we age?

As we age, maintaining lower body strength and mobility is important for maintaining our independence and our quality of life. The ability to get up and down out of a chair with ease has been correlated with not only muscular strength, balance, and healthy body mechanics, but also longevity! Think of it as an indirect marker of your overall health.

If you can't get up from a chair without using your hands, you're at a high risk for falls. And falls can have very serious consequences. According to the CDC, each year, more than 25 percent of adults 65 or older have a fall. It's the leading cause of injury death.

"If you can't get up from a chair without using your hands, you're at a high risk for falls."

Try it out!

Consistent practice of this mindful Chair Sit-to-Stand routine for just a few minutes each day can gradually strengthen your lower body, improve your balance, and increase your confidence over time. 

Let's try it:

  1. Sit down in a sturdy chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground, about hip width apart.
  2. Hinge forward and stand up from the chair (without using your hands), pushing through your heels and keeping your chest lifted. Notice any compensation - for example, leaning more of your weight into one leg, or one of your knees collapsing inward as you get up.
  3. Once you're standing, pause for a moment. Feel your feet connected to the earth.
  4. Then, slowly lower yourself back down to a seated position, focusing on the sensation of your muscles working to support your body. As you lower yourself down, continue to breathe deeply.
  5. Repeat 5-8 times.

Want a little more challenge? Up the ante by trying one of the following variations:

  • As you're coming back down, pause in a squat right before you sit down (hovering your hips above the seat of the chair). Hold and breathe before you sit all the way down.
  • Instead of keeping your feet hip-distance apart, put one foot in front of the other like you're walking on a tight rope.

Let me guide you! 

Try this 5-minute video where I guide you through this Sit-to-Stand yoga practice.

The 30-Second Sit-to-Stand test

I also use a version of this with some of my yoga therapy clients as an assessment tool to test lower body strength and endurance. It's called the "30-Second Sit-to-Stand Test." This is something you can easily try out yourself if you're curious how your ability compares with other people your age.

Basically, time yourself for 30 seconds and see how many times you can get up and down out of the chair without using your hands.

Here's the link to the official handout from the CDC. You can download it, print it out, and record your results!

After you record your results, continue your regular yoga practice (including the mindful Chair Sit-to-Stand yoga practice above!) and any other exercise you are incorporating. After a month or two, repeat the test to see any improvement or changes in your progress.

Your Next Step

If balance, lower-body strength, and maintaining independence through the years is a goal of yours, then I encourage you to reach out. As a yoga therapist, I can work with you (online via Zoom or in-person in Granbury, Texas) to provide a specific plan to reach your goals. Read more about yoga therapy and fill out the inquiry form at the bottom of the page if you're interested.