Senior Living Management & Operations Specialists

Chair Exercises for Seniors

Limited mobility shouldn’t stop you from staying active or feeling good. This guide provides some of the best chair exercises for seniors and their benefits.

Chair Exercises for Seniors With Mobility Concerns

Do you or a senior you love have mobility issues? While limited mobility can be concerning, it does not mean you cannot remain active and maintain your physical fitness.

If you or a loved one are having trouble moving around and finding it difficult to get even a little bit of exercise in a day, do not worry. There are still ways to exercise without ever getting up from a chair.

In situations where you cannot make it to the gym or cannot stand for long periods, chair exercises are a fun and easy way to keep fit!

In this article, you will learn: 

  • Why exercising is important even if your mobility is limited
  • 4 examples of exercises in a chair for seniors; and
  • Much more

Table of Contents

Why is Exercising Important Even if Your Mobility is Limited? 4 Benefits of Chair Exercises for Seniors
How Often Should Seniors Do Chair Exercises?
4 Examples of Gentle Chair Exercises for Seniors to Use as a Warm-Up
Beyond the Warm-Up: Chair Exercises for Seniors
Fun Chair Exercises for Seniors to Strengthen Your Core
Chair Exercises for Seniors With Music
Senior Services of America: Boosting the Independence, Health, & Well-Being of Community Residents

Why Is Exercising Important Even if Your Mobility Is Limited? 4 Benefits of Chair Exercises for Seniors

Sitting while exercising is the ideal option for seniors with limited mobility or balance issues.

Exercises in a chair provide seniors with an easy and enjoyable way to stay active and stretch their muscles without stressing their bodies.

#1: Chair Exercises Can Give Seniors a Mood Boost

There are many benefits to physical activity, and it’s also an excellent way to boost your mood and reduce depression. All ages can benefit from exercise and physical activity, including older adults.  

The Centers for Disease Control recommend seniors exercise 150 minutes per week. Exercising not only keeps you in a good mood but also improves your overall health.

In the body, hundreds of neurotransmitters are released when you exercise. The increase in both neurotransmitters and hormones benefit the body and mind. During this time, endorphins take over and give you a mood boost.  

Chair exercises provide an excellent option for seniors with limited mobility or balance issues. The best part is that you can do them in the privacy of your own home.

#2: Chair Exercises Help Keep Seniors Active Even With Mobility Issues

Chair exercises are a great way for older adults to remain active.

You’ll feel better and become more mobile if you do exercises that improve your flexibility. For example, while sitting in a chair, one can perform many flexibility yoga poses and other flexibility exercises.

You don’t need to do anything elaborate. Here’s a great example of an easy chair exercise for seniors: 

When seated in a chair, you can stretch your back and upper legs by leaning forward and touching your feet.

While sitting upright in a chair and turning your back, so you are looking behind you while your lower body stays firmly seated, you can also stretch your back and use muscles that you normally don’t get a chance to use.

#3: Chair Exercises Help Seniors Remain Socially Involved

Being healthy, active, and fit as you age is essential, and social activities are also crucial.. So why not combine the two and enjoy group exercise classes?

In recent years, aerobic chair classes and other forms of senior fitness programs have become quite popular. A group exercise class is a perfect way to socialize while reaping the benefits of exercise — it’s an excellent way to exercise and mingle with friends. 

The activities programs at Senior Services of America communities are designed to keep residents engaged and active. Physical activities and social programs are among our programs that support the development of new friendships.

#4 Chair Exercises Improve Circulation

Sitting in a chair and performing arm and hand exercises are a great way to improve circulation. 

For example, you can stretch your fingers, hands, and arms to increase and improve circulation in your upper extremities. 

When sitting in a chair and performing arm and hand exercises, perhaps add a small weight. This will add to the muscle tone while improving your circulation.

How Often Should Seniors Do Chair Exercises?

According to AARP, regular exercise is the best prescription for independent, active and healthy aging. 

It’s been shown that seniors can benefit from as little as 15 minutes per day of moderately heart-pumping exercise — chair exercise is a great way to get in this 15 minutes.

4 Examples of Gentle Chair Exercises for Seniors to Use as a Warm-Up 

It doesn’t matter if you’re about to run a mile or do a 15-minute chair workout; warming up is always a good idea.

Following are some ideas for warm-up exercises: 

  • Arm circles
  • Neck rolls
  • Seattle ankle circles
  • Seated hip lifts

A good rule of thumb is to perform 30 seconds of each movement for 3 to 5 minutes

Beyond the Warm-Up: Chair Exercises for Seniors

It is essential to have proper posture before beginning any exercise. 

Sitting exercises should be performed with your feet flat on the floor and your ankles directly below your knees. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. 

It is important to sit tall and tuck your navel into your spine, which will help support your back and improve your posture. 

You should keep your chin parallel to the floor and look straight ahead while performing the exercises.

In the following sections, we’re discussing some of the best chair exercises for seniors.

3 Upper Body Chair Exercises for Seniors

Stronger upper body muscles can provide greater balance and stability, reducing the risk of falling — they can also make daily life easier. The more easily you can move around, the easier life becomes.

Let’s take a look at some upper body chair exercises: 

Seated Arm Curls — Increases arm strength and flexibility and facilitates reaching and holding

To perform: 

  1. Extend each arm by your side while holding a one-pound weight, can of soup, or water bottle. (Can also be performed without the weight.)
  2. Bend one arm at the elbow and curl it up toward your shoulder.
  3. As you straighten that arm back down, curl the other arm up toward your shoulder.
  4. As you curl your arms, alternate from side to side until you’ve done 15 curls on each side.
  5. For about a minute, take a break.
  6. Repeat movements.

Banded Chest Press — Strengthens muscles in the chest and upper back

To perform: 

  1. Hold the resistance band at both ends. Keep your elbows bent and hold them in front of your chest. If the band is too long, fold it in half. 
  2. Pull the band toward your chest and straighten your arms as you exhale and bring the band closer to your chest.
  3. Breathe in, then exhale.
  4. Repeat the exercise from the beginning

Seated Row — Strengthens arms, shoulders, and back

To perform: 

  1. Your arms should be extended out in front of you.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement by pulling your elbows back behind you. 
  3. Throughout this exercise, keep your chest up. 
  4. Repeat the movements.

3 Lower Body Chair Exercises for Seniors

Being restricted to a wheelchair is not easy, especially for seniors. Sitting in a wheelchair daily can cause serious health risks, as well as: 

  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort; and
  • Bad posture

To counteract these downsides, it is important to provide a daily routine of exercises. 

Seniors considered at risk for falling can also benefit from lower body chair exercises.

Falling is most commonly caused by a trip or an unsteady step at the top of the stairs or while going down the stairs — because of this, seniors should incorporate at least one leg strengthening exercise into their routine to maintain their overall fitness levels. 

By doing so, seniors can protect themselves against injury while retaining adequate mobility.

Toe Taps — Strengthens the lower legs.

  1. Lift your toes high with heels on the floor. Feel the muscles along your shins working.
  2. Continue to repeat this movement. 

Knee Lifts — Strengthens the thighs.

  1. With your arms resting but not pressing on the armrests, lift your right leg while contracting your quadriceps muscles. The back of your thigh and knee should be 2 to 3 inches off the seat.
  2. Hold your leg for 3 seconds and slowly lower it.
  3. Repeat this movement. 

Heel Slides – Improves knee range of motion. (Due to pressure sustained on joints, this might not be a suitable exercise if a senior is experiencing major knee pain.)

  1. Sit comfortably on the edge of the chair.
  2. Keep your core (abs and lumbar) tight and keep your chest out.
  3. Maintain stability by gripping the seat with both hands at the sides of the chair.
  4. Point the toes of one leg forward as far as possible in front of the body. Its foot should be parallel to the hips. The other leg should be bent, close to the body, with the foot planted on the ground.
  5. While keeping the foot flat, drag the foot slowly toward the body until it reaches the flexed position of the other leg.
  6. Maintain pressure while extending the leg to the starting position.
  7. Repeat movements.

Fun Chair Exercises for Seniors to Strengthen Your Core

You often hear of younger adults exercising their core, but core exercises are important for seniors, too. 

The muscles in your lower abdomen support your lower back and help you: 

  • Stand
  • Get out of a chair
  • Bend
  • Lift; and
  • Maintain balance

Chair Exercises for Seniors With Music

Chair exercises for seniors with music are a fun way to get seniors moving and dancing!

Anyone who needs limited mobility exercise options will enjoy these exercises, including those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. 

Blast The Twist and let seniors exercise their core! Find a list of fun and energetic exercises, turn on a favorite playlist, and watch the fun (and exercising) begin. 

There are plenty of online chair exercises for seniors videos to choose from for those who aren’t confident in their dance moves.

“Biking” Chair Exercises for Seniors  Using Scenic Videos 

In recent years, biking exercises have increased in popularity. Seniors might have difficulty with a stationary bike, but that doesn’t mean they cannot perform the motions while seated. 

Seniors that still have the coordination can still make the bicycle motion in their legs and core — and with technology, seniors (or their caregivers) can easily access video tours on YouTube from all over the world. Who wouldn’t enjoy taking a ride through the streets of Italy?

Senior Services of America: Boosting the Independence, Health, & Well-Being of Community Residents

Many people associate senior living with decreased independence and activity, but this is not true in Senior Services of America communities. 

Our facilities encourage seniors to stay active and have health and wellness programs to keep you or your loved one healthy and active. 

If you, or a loved one, are looking for heart-healthy activities or people to support you in making healthy choices that improve not only their physical health but also their mental health, our staff is here to assist you. 

See our community locator for more information about the amenities and facilities we offer.

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