Chair exercises for seniors are a great way for people of any age or health condition to start incorporating more movement, strength training and stretching into their daily lives. These seated exercises help improve balance and posture, strengthen the core, and provide flexibility benefits that boost overall quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, and these simple seated workouts are an easy and effective option for older adults looking to get more fit.
Chair exercise routines are also ideal for older adults who have trouble balancing or decreased mobility, those with a history of low blood pressure and/or lightheadedness and those starting from a lower baseline of strength and endurance, says physical therapist Shannon Siert. However, she warns that these individuals should carefully evaluate their fitness level and make sure they are building up to a safe exercise program over time.
In general, people starting new workouts, including those doing chair exercises, should always start slowly and gradually increase their reps as they become more familiar with the moves. In addition, if a person has pain or discomfort in their joints or muscles, they should stop and consult their doctor before continuing.
For these seated exercises, it’s important to use a sturdy chair that doesn’t have armrests. Then, sit toward the front of the chair with one knee bent and the other on the floor directly below it. Keep the hands flat on the edges of the chair next to the thighs for stability. Then, push up from the chair as if you are standing up, using your arms only for support and not for lifting your bottom off of the seat. Hold this position for about a minute.
Another seated chair exercise is to stretch your shoulders and chest. Sit upright with the back of the chair slightly away from you and arms by your sides. Inhale and push the chest out and up until you feel a good stretch in the shoulder area. Repeat this for about five repetitions.
To work the hips and thighs, sit in the same position but this time, lift the right leg up off of the chair, keeping it straight and close to the seat. Slowly shift the weight to the left side, as if you were running in place, and then slowly return to the center. Repeat the same on the other side.
The last seated exercise for the core is to begin by sitting on the edge of the chair, supporting yourself with the hand on the seat behind you. Flex and point each foot independently, then flex and curl the ankles to extend the feet out. Repeat this 10 times.
These seated exercises are just some of many that can be done to build strength, increase flexibility and reduce falls. It’s never too late to add these seated workouts into your regular routine and start feeling the benefits!