Exercises you can do at home
It is recommended that you work your way through the exercises in the order shown. Alternatively, you can pick just the sections that interest you.
To ensure you are looking after yourself throughout this exercise programme, please read the below points before getting started:
You - make sure you are prepared for exercise, wearing light and comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Check-in with your body, do you have any aches or pains to look after during exercise today?
The Environment - set-up your space, check you have enough room, remove items from the floor that may cause you to trip, check the room temperature is appropriate.
The Activity – you know your body, choose an activity you are comfortable with, participate at your own pace and to a level that suits your fitness.
Remember to start the exercise with gentler activity (warm-up) and cool down in the same way. Drink water before, during and afterwards to remain hydrated and take breaks during your exercise if you need.
The purpose of the warm-up is to gradually get your muscles and cardiovascular system prepared for exercising.
Take a seat and make sure you sit forward in your chair, nice and upright, with your feet flat on the floor – this is our starting position.
Lift your toes off the ground, then back to the starting position, and lift your heels off the ground and back to the starting position. Repeat this for 15 seconds. Now, keeping your heels on the ground, tap your toes from side to side. Repeat this for 15 seconds.
Do a marching movement sitting in your chair. Start slowly and build up speed. Remember to swing your arms! Do this for 30 seconds.
Foot and arm switch
Sitting forward on your chair, place one foot under your seat with just your toes on the floor and the other foot flat on the floor in front of you. Have your arms at your sides and ensure that they are straight. Swing your arms up so they are level with your shoulders and at the same time switch the position of your feet. Bring your arms back down to your sides and at the same time switch your foot position back. Keep repeating for 30 seconds.
Seated star jump exercise
Extend both legs out in front of your body on a 45-degree angle (can either put feet on the ground or above ground). At the same time extend your arms like you are doing a star jump. Bring your limbs back to the starting position. Keep repeating for 30 seconds.
Knee lift punching exercise
Lift one knee up and punch the air in front of you with your opposite arm. Swap sides and keep alternating for 30 seconds.
Try and do these exercises for the recommended duration. If you can't, that is OK - do what you can manage and try to gradually build up from there.
Looking straight ahead, stand with your feet touching each other and flat on the floor with your knees slightly bent [30 seconds]. Optional: Reach up high with one or both arms as if you were getting something off a high shelf. This variation raises our centre of gravity which makes balancing more challenging!
Stand with one foot in the instep of your other foot so your feet are touching [30 seconds]. Swap feet position and repeat [30 seconds].
Tandem (Heel-Toe stance)
Bring one foot so the heel is touching the toe of the other foot [30 seconds]. Swap your foot position and repeat [30 seconds].
Lift your left foot off the ground and either rest your left foot against your right leg or lift it just off the ground in front of you which is a little bit more challenging [30 seconds]. Swap feet so you’re lifting your right leg off the ground and repeat [30 seconds].
Forward lean exercise
Stand with your feet close together and keep your legs and back straight. Now lean forward as far as possible, maintaining the straight body position. The main things to focus on are keeping your heels down, leaning from the ankle and NOT the hips, and really gripping your toes into the ground to prevent yourself from falling forward. Try and hold this pose for 5 seconds. Push down firmly through your toes/soles of your feet to bring your body back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 1 minute.
Tap the Clock exercise – right leg
Stand to the right-hand side of your chair with your feet together and hold the back of your chair with your left hand if needed. Pretend that you are standing directly in the middle of a large clock which is lying on the ground, the 12 directly ahead of you. Lift your right foot so it is either lightly touching the ground or slightly off the ground. Bend your left knee – this is the starting position. The goal is to touch all the numbers on the imaginary clock with your right foot and after each touch return to the starting position. You can tap either on the ground or hover your foot just off the ground. Tapping further away makes this exercise harder, closer to you is easier. The goal is to build up your strength, balance and endurance so you can get all 12 numbers touched without resting in less than 1 minute! When tapping the numbers 7 to 11, you’ll have to cross your right leg in behind and/or in front of your left leg.
Tap the Clock exercise – left leg
Now we’ll do the same exercise again but using our left leg. Stand on the left-hand side of your chair. Lift your left foot so it is either lightly touching the ground or slightly off the ground. Bend your right knee – this is the starting position. Repeat this exercise with your left leg, and work around the clock in reverse order. Try to get all 12 numbers touched without resting in less than 1 minute.
Aim to do 8-12 repetitions per leg. Alternatively, do what you can manage and try to gradually build up from there.
Hip flexor muscles
These muscles work to lift your leg up off the ground in a forward direction which is important when you’re walking!
Action: Stand slightly to one side of your chair. Keeping your legs straight, extend one of your legs so it is out in front of you and off the floor. Hold it in the extended position briefly then lower your leg back to the starting position.
The hamstring muscles are responsible for your hip and knee movements in walking, squatting, bending your knees, and tilting your pelvis.
Action: Bend your leg so one of your heels ends up close to your bum (or as close as is comfortable for you). Pause when flexed before slowly lowering your leg back to the start position. Note: This exercise may cause cramps for some people. If this happens to you, don’t flex your leg as much).
These are powerful muscles which help you get up from a chair, and play an important role when you’re walking, climbing stairs and squatting down.
Action: For this exercise lift one leg off the ground keeping it bent. Now extend your leg out in front of you, so it is straight, and your foot is off the floor. Hold it in the extended position briefly then lower your leg back to the starting position.
Rear leg raises
This one is for your bum muscles which are called your glutes. These muscles are important as they affect your ability to stand from a squatted position, climb stairs and walk uphill.
Action: Extend your left leg backwards and focus on squeezing your glutes muscles. Ensure that you are keeping your left leg and your back nice and straight. Hold briefly at the end of your range of motion and return your leg back to the starting position.
Side leg lift
This exercise strengthens your hip abductors which are necessary for staying stable when walking or standing on one leg.
Action: Raise your left leg out to the side, keeping it straight and your toes pointed forward. Pause at the end of the movement before slowly lowering your leg back to the start position.
Calf and toe raises
These exercises help to strengthen your lower leg muscles which play an important role in walking.
Action: Rise up onto your toes as high as you comfortably can, pause, then lower yourself down to the start position. Then lift your toes up off the ground so only your heels are on the ground and hold that position briefly. Keep alternating these movements.
Sit to stands
This is a good exercise to assess your leg strength.
Action: Stand in front of your chair as if you were going to sit down. Placing your arms across your chest or straight out in front of you, begin to bend your legs to slowly sit down. Keep your back straight. Sit down on your chair and then stand back up. Try and avoid using your arms if you can – if you need to use your arms that is OK but have the goal of using them less as your leg strength improves.
Aim to do each exercise for 45 seconds and increase the duration as you improve.
Aim to lift your knees up nice and high and swing your arms!
Make sure you have space to your left and right. Take a step to one side. Do the same with your other foot and bring your feet together. Make each side-step slightly wider than shoulder-width. You should feel your hip muscles working through this exercise.
Take a small step forwards and diagonally with your left foot, and a small step forwards and diagonally with your right foot, then bring your feet together so they are touching. Keep repeating this sequence but alternate which foot you lead with. Do this exercise quickly with fast feet and light steps.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Place one foot in front of the other about a walking strides distance apart. Both toes point forwards and knees slightly bent. Tilt your hips up towards the ceiling and lean backwards and up to get a stretch in your back-hip. Swap feet position and repeat for the other hip. You can do this one standing up or sitting on the edge of your chair.
Lift your right leg up off the ground and make circles with your ankle in a clockwise direction (5 seconds). Now rotate it the other way (5 seconds). Now point your toes to the ground…and now your heel to the ground. Keep repeating this for a few repetitions (5 seconds). And let’s swap legs and do the same thing. Lift your left leg up off the ground and rotate your ankle in a clockwise direction (5 seconds). Now rotate it the other way (5 seconds). Point your toes to the ground…and now your heel to the ground. Keep repeating this a few more times (5 seconds).
Sit forward on your chair and straighten your right leg keeping your heel on the ground and toe in the air. Bend your left leg. Lean forward at the waist. You should feel a stretch in the back of your straight leg (5 seconds). Straighten up at your waist and repeat for 5 seconds – try and stretch a little further than before but make sure you aren’t feeling any pain. Repeat with your other leg.
Rotate your shoulders to your righthand side and hold the stretch for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Rotate to your left, hold the stretch for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Keep repeating for 30 seconds.
Lean to one side of your chair so you feel a nice stretch in your side. Hold for a few seconds then return to the starting position. Lean to the other side, hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Keep repeating for 30 seconds.
Extend your arms out to your side and level with your shoulders (like a scarecrow). Move your arms behind you – you should feel a nice stretch in your chest.
Lower back stretch
Slowly bend forward at the waist as far as you can comfortably go. Allow your spine to lengthen and relax your neck. Now slowly extend back to an upright position. Do this stretch a couple of times.
Upper back stretch
Hold your arms up and out in front at shoulder height. Turn your palms so they face each other and interlock your fingers. Relax your shoulders so they’re not scrunched up near your ears. Extend your hands until you feel a stretch. You can drop your head between your arms to increase the stretch. Hold for 10 seconds.
Place your arms at your sides and lift your shoulders as if you were shrugging, now roll your shoulders forwards to make small circles which gradually get bigger (10 seconds). Now rotate them backwards starting small and getting bigger (10 seconds).
Rotate your head to look to your right-hand side… and back the other way to look to your left. Now place one ear to your shoulder (5 seconds). Repeat on the other side (5 seconds). Repeat a few times.
Sit upright in your chair, nice and relaxed. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Hold… and slowly release your breath. And again, take a deep breath in. Hold… and slowly release. One more time … deep breath in, hold… and slowly release your breath.
- Practice these exercises at home (e.g. seated leg exercises when watching TV, balance exercises when brushing teeth etc)