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Strength exercises

Strength exercises help to improve your health and mobility.

Don't worry if you have not done much for a while. These strength exercises are gentle and you can start slowly. Aim to gradually increase the repetitions of each exercise over time.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and keep some water nearby.

For the chair exercises, choose a stable chair that does not have wheels. Have the chair against a wall to stop it moving if you fall back on it.

You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at right angles. Avoid chairs with arms, as these will restrict your movement.

Try to do these exercises at least twice a week and combine them with:


man sitting on chair and standing up
  1. Sit on the edge of the chair with your feet the same width apart as your hips. Lean forward slightly.
  2. Stand up slowly using your legs, not your arms. Keep looking forward and do not look down.
  3. Stand upright and then slowly sit down, bottom-first.

Repeat 5 times – the slower, the better.

Mini squats

man holding back of chair and slowly bending knees then standing back up
Mini squats
  1. Rest your hands on the back of the chair for stability and stand with your feet the same width apart as your hips.
  2. 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.
  3. Gently stand up straight, squeezing your buttocks (bottom) as you do so.

Repeat 5 times.

Calf raises

man holding back of chair and lifting heels off the ground
Calf raises
  1. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
  2. Lift both your heels off the floor as far as is comfortable. The movement should be slow and controlled.

Repeat 5 times.

To make this harder, do the exercise without the chair.

Sideways leg lift

man holding back of chair and lifting one leg to the side
Sideways leg lift
  1. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
  2. Raise your left leg to the side as far as is comfortable, keeping your back and hips straight. Avoid tilting to the right.
  3. Return to the starting position. Then raise your right leg to the side as far as possible.

Raise and lower each leg 5 times.

Leg extension

man holding the back of a chair and lifting one leg backwards
Leg extension
  1. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
  2. 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.
  3. Repeat with the right leg.

Hold the lift for up to 5 seconds and repeat 5 times with each leg.

Wall press-up

man standing near wall and gently leaning closer to the wall and pushing back out
Wall press-up
  1. Stand arm's length from the wall. Place your hands flat against the wall at chest level, with your fingers pointing upwards.
  2. With your back straight, slowly bend your arms, keeping your elbows by your side. Try to close the gap between you and the wall as much as you can.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.

Try to do 3 rounds of 5 to 10 repetitions.

Biceps curls

man standing and gently lifting light weights to the shoulder
Biceps curls

You need light weights for this exercise. If you do not have weights, you can use filled water water bottles instead.

  1. Hold a pair of light weights and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping your arms by your side, slowly bend them until the weight in your hand reaches your shoulder.
  3. Slowly lower the weight again.

You can do this exercise while sitting too.

Try to do 5 to 10 of these, then repeat this 3 times. Take a break between each round.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE.

Page last reviewed: 23 February 2023
Next review due: 23 February 2026