If you’re a senior with limited mobility, it may be challenging to get enough exercise. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seniors get 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity and two days of muscle strengthening exercises. Fortunately, there are many ways you can boost your fitness levels from the comfort of a chair. These seated workouts can strengthen the muscles and help prevent falls, which can cause serious injuries.
These workouts also provide more flexibility than standing, which reduces stress on lower body joints like knees and ankles. This low-impact approach to fitness can make it easier for seniors to keep up with a regular routine, which is important for overall health and wellbeing.
The following seated chair exercises are perfect for beginners or those with limited mobility, as they can be performed from the comfort of a home-based chair without the need to rise from it. While there are many variations on these workouts, the basic chair exercises for seniors include warm-up exercises to stretch and prepare the muscles, cardiovascular exercises, and strength training movements.
Performing these chair exercises daily can increase muscle strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Those with limited mobility can benefit from stronger upper body and core muscles, which improve balance and stability and can help to prevent falls. A person can even perform a chair-based yoga practice, which can be especially beneficial for those who experience chronic pain or discomfort.
Begin with this simple 10 minute routine designed by the East Coast health care organization Dartmouth-Hitchcock. It includes a warm-up, arm exercises, and a sit-to-stand movement. You’ll need a sturdy chair that doesn’t have arms or wheels, a small towel or water bottle to hold for balance, and a timer.
This exercise works the outer thighs and buttocks and builds shoulder strength. Sit upright in the front of your chair with feet flat on the floor and your shoulders back. Inhale and squeeze the buttocks and thighs together, holding for at least 10 seconds. This exercise can be made more challenging by adding a book between the knees to resist the weight of your legs. Aim to do five repetitions.
With this exercise, you can work the thighs and core and also strengthen the arms. Start by sitting in your chair with the hands resting on either side of the thighs and the spine straight. Slowly begin to shift your weight into the heels and then slowly rise up to a standing position. Count to 30 seconds before returning to the seated position.
While this is a simple exercise, it can be difficult for those with limited mobility to do. A person can add challenge by attempting the exercise while holding a water bottle or dumbbells in each hand for additional resistance. This exercise is good for building arm strength, but it also strengthens the hips and thighs while improving flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. Start by extending one leg straight in front of you and then, while keeping the head up, bend that knee toward the chest as far as comfortable, with the heel lifted off the floor. Repeat with the other leg.