While exercise is important at any age, experts stress that older adults should be as active as possible to avoid illness and maintain their strength.
The good news: you don’t need a gym or fancy equipment to incorporate fitness into your daily routine. Aerobic exercise, stretching, and strength training for seniors can be done with something everyone has at home – a chair. And because any sturdy chair can be an “exercise chair,” there’s no need to set aside time specifically for fitness. Chair exercises can be done while at work or watching TV.
The below is a guide to a few of the best-seated exercises for older adults.
What Are The Best Seated “Chair Aerobics” Exercises?
- Seated Jacks: Sit with your knees together and keep your toes pointed. Bend your elbows and open your arms to the sides with your palms facing forward. Take both legs out to the sides and flex your feet. Let your feet land on your heels, and bring your arms together above your head, then return to the starting position.
- Reps: 25 to 30
- Chair Running: Sit straight and extend your legs. Keep your toes pointed, and your arms bent at the sides. Engage your core and let your shoulder blades touch the back of the chair lightly. Bring your left knee to your chest and turn your right shoulder toward your knee, then quickly pull your right elbow back and switch sides, bringing your right knee to your chest and turning your left shoulder.
- Reps: 25 to 30
How Can Seniors Strengthen Their Legs with Chair Exercises?
- Chair Squats: Stand in front of the chair with your feet hip-width apart and keep your knees over your feet. Slowly lower your glutes toward the chair without actually sitting down and tighten your abdominals to help support your back. Keep your knees over your ankles with your weight in your heels throughout the full range of motion, and place your arms out in front of you to help you balance. Straighten your body upright and repeat.
- Reps: 8 to 10
- Calf Raises: Stand facing the back of the chair and lightly hold onto it with your fingertips. Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and straight – do not lock knees. Raise up onto the balls of your feet and hold for 2 seconds. Try not to let your heels touch or rest on the ground between repetitions unless necessary.
- Reps: 10 to 15
What Are The Best Stretching Exercises for Seniors Using a Chair?
- Seated Spine Twist: Cross one leg over the other, then twist your body toward the leg that is on top. You can use the arm of the chair to push yourself into a deeper twist if comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Reps: 3 per side
- Seated Back Stretch: While sitting, reach both hands behind your back and around the chair, then arch your back and move your chest forward. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Reps: 5
What Are The Best Core Chair Exercises for Seniors While Seated?
- Seated Twist: Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a lightweight object in front of your chest. Extend your arms and slightly bend your elbows to hold the object at eye level in front of you. Gently twist your torso to one side, making sure to rotate from your core (instead of your arms or shoulders). Hold for one second, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Reps: 30
- Rested Knee Lift: Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on top of your thighs, palms down. Engage your core and gently press your left palm down into your left thigh while simultaneously pressing your right thigh up toward your right palm. Hold for 3 seconds, then release and repeat on the opposite side. This low-impact exercise makes it one of the most accessible core strengthening exercises for seniors.
- Reps: 20
What Chair Exercises are Best for Weight Training for Seniors?
- Tricep Mini-Dip: Sit at the edge of the chair, with your feet on the floor. Place the palms of your hands on the seat of the chair with your arms straight and carefully slide your glutes off the edge of the chair. Bend your arms, keeping them close to your torso, and lower your body a couple of inches. Straighten your arms by pressing through your palms to raise yourself back up.
- Reps: 5
- Bicep Curl: Sit at the front edge of the chair with a lightweight object in each hand (you can use weights, water bottles, or similarly sized objects). Extend your arms down at your sides with your palms up and facing forward. Keep your upper arms pressed tightly against your ribcage. Keeping your arms pressed to your sides, curl your palms up toward your shoulders, and then slowly lower back to the start position.
- Reps: 10.
As you age, physical movement plays a crucial role in maintaining your health.
Incorporating 30 minutes of moderate cardio and strength exercises for seniors each day can help maintain muscle mass and avoid other health risks associated with obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Chair exercises are an easy option leg workouts without leaving home.