Getting regular exercise is a great way to help you stay fit at any age, and as you get older, it’s even more crucial to stay active.
If exercise is already a part of your every-day life, that’s great, but what can you do if you have mobility issues that prevent you from engaging in certain types of activities?
While exercising may be challenging for those with limited mobility, you can still make great strides toward your fitness goals by starting with simple chair exercises for seniors.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercise can improve your physical health and well-being. It can also help you control your weight, which may help prevent serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Exercise produces endorphins, which are the “feel good” hormones, so getting regular exercise can also improve your mental health, improve the quality of your sleep, relieve stress and anxiety, and boost your mood.
Regular exercise can also improve your balance and flexibility, increase your strength and stamina, and help prevent bone loss. Exercise can help you stay healthy, fit and strong, which may reduce your risk of falling. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the No. 1 cause of fatal injuries for seniors age 65 and older.
10 Chair Exercises for Seniors
If you’re thinking of doing chair exercises, but you don’t know where to begin, the 10 exercises below are all great options. These exercises focus on different parts of the body, including arms, core and legs, as well as some gentle stretching exercises.
These are simple exercises, and you can do them while seated in your chair.
1. Seated Bicep Curls
Sit in a chair with your hips back, your core tight and your back against the back of the chair. While using a set of dumbbells or a resistance band, start with your arms down and elbows tucked in, then curl your arms up toward your shoulders, and lower them to the original position.
2. Isolated Tricep Extensions
Sit in your chair so your back is against the back of the chair. Begin by raising one elbow up into the air with a dumbbell in your hand. Let the dumbbell drop back before slowly raising it over your head while supporting your elbow with the other hand. Return to the starting position.
3. Seated Shoulder Press
Sit in your chair with your back against the back of the chair. With a tightened core and a straight back, begin by holding a dumbbell in each hand and your arms raised and bent at a 90-degree angle, with your elbows out toward the sides of your body.
With your palms facing up, extend your arms straight up, keeping them parallel until fully extended. Then slowly lower your arms to the starting position.
4. Extended Leg Raises
Sit near the front edge of the chair, and grab the sides of the seat with your hands. Extend both legs out in front of you with your toes pointing upward. With a straight back and a tightened core, slowly lift, alternating one leg at a time, as high as you can before returning to the starting position.
5. Tummy Twists
Sit toward the front edge of the chair. With a tightened core and straight back, hold a medicine ball or other weighted object in front of you. Bend your elbows, and rotate the upper part of your body to the left, rotate back toward the center, then rotate toward the right and back to the center.
6. Seated Knee-to-Chest
Sit forward on the edge of the chair, and grab the seat with both hands. Keeping your back straight, lean back so your back is against the back of the chair, and extend your legs out in front of you. Slowly raise your legs and pull them in toward your chest while bending your knees. Then slowly lower your legs back into the starting position.
7. Knee Extensions
Sit in your chair with your back against the back of the chair. Grab the seat of the chair with both hands for stability. With a tightened core and straight back, lift one leg in front of you until it’s fully extended, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
8. Seated Calf Raises
Sit in your chair with your back against the back of the chair. Grab the seat for stability. With your legs at a 90-degree angle with the chair and your feet on the floor, tighten your core and push the balls of your feet down toward the floor while lifting the heels up. Return to the starting position.
9. Seated Side Stretch
Sit toward the edge of the chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. With one hand, grab the seat for stability, then raise the other hand up toward the ceiling in a curved position. Slowly bend in the direction of the extended arm, hold for 10–20 seconds, then return to a straight position before repeating with the other arm.
10. Seated Hip Stretch
Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your core tightened. Cross one leg on top of the other leg so the ankle of the crossed leg extends past the leg underneath it. With a straight back, slowly bend forward as far as you can. Hold for 10–20 seconds and repeat before alternating to the opposite leg.
Risks and Precautions
With any exercise program comes the potential for injuries. It’s important for you to talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program to make sure you are doing exercises that are right for you.
This is especially important if you have any mobility limitations or if you have recently had surgery or other medical procedures. Clearing your plans with your doctor may help prevent injuries from happening and keep you safe as you improve your health and fitness.
Now is as good a time as any to begin taking steps to improve your health and stay fit, and these simple chair exercises may be just the thing you need to get started.
Joseph Jones has been writing senior care and aging-related articles for years. He got his start while writing for a personal blog before he was offered to work at California Mobility in 2018 as the Content Marketing Manager, creating highly informative guides and health awareness articles for aging adults.
He’s currently contributing to a variety of blogs in the senior health industry in hopes to spread information about taking care of seniors and what to expect in the aging process.