Regular exercise is widely advocated for the young and middle-aged, but less is heard about its relevance to elderly people. This study reports the findings of a controlled trial of seated exercise in residents of local authority homes for the elderly. Forty-nine residents aged 64-91 years volunteered for the 7-month project, and participated in either twice-weekly exercise or reminiscence sessions. Primary outcome measures were postural sway, flexibility of the spine and knees, hand-grip strength and functional capacity. The average (range of) attendance at the exercise sessions was 91% (64-100%), and at the reminiscence sessions was 86% (46-100%). By the end of the project, the change observed in the exercise group was significantly different from that of the reminiscence group in terms of grip strength (p<0.02), spinal flexion (p<0.001), chair-to-stand time (p<0.001), activities of daily living (p<0.05), and self-rating of depression (p<0.01). Even very elderly residents of old peoples homes can benefit from participation in regular seated exercise and improve their functional capacity.