Our bodies need physical exercise, especially as we get older. As a senior, staying fit can help you maintain independence for longer by boosting your muscle strength, balance and range of mobility. We understand the natural changes that may come with aging can limit your ability to take part in the physical activities you once loved and enjoyed — but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout.
Chair exercises for seniors can be a great, low-impact way to stay fit without straining your body. To help you stay active and healthy in your golden years, we’ve curated nine essential exercises for seniors, with pictures to help guide you through them.
Benefits Of Chair Exercises For Seniors
It’s never too late to start your fitness journey. Senior chair exercises can help you:
- Boost blood circulation
- Improve coordination and balance
- Build muscle strength
- Increase mobility
- Reduce feelings of anxiety or depression
- Maintain or improve cognitive function
- Prevent or delay onset of memory illnesses
Types Of Chair Exercises For Seniors
Here are the key types of sitting exercises for seniors that can help strengthen various areas of your body:
- Upper body exercises
- Core exercises
- Lower body exercises
Upper Body Chair Exercises For Seniors
Strengthening your upper body (arms, shoulders and chest) can help improve your posture and overall body strength. Here are a few key exercises that can help build your upper body muscles:
Banded Chest Press
The banded chest press can help you strengthen both your chest and arm muscles.
How to perform a banded chest press:
- Sit in a sturdy, comfortable seat, ensuring your feet are firmly planted on the floor.
- Tightly secure a resistance band at the back of the seat, directly behind your shoulder.
- With your back straight, slowly push the band until your arms are fully extended in front of you.
- Hold the position for two to three seconds.
- Repeat five to 10 times, taking breaks as needed.
Seated Bicep Curls
This exercise targets your biceps and can help improve overall arm strength.
How to perform seated bicep curls:
- Sit in a sturdy chair with your back straight and your feet planted on the floor.
- With your arms at your sides, hold a dumbbell (you can also use a bottle of water) in each hand.
- Slowly lift the dumbbells toward your shoulders in a curling motion, bending your elbows.
- Hold for two to three seconds, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down, fully extending your arms.
- Repeat five to 10 times, taking breaks between each repetition.
Seated Shoulder Press
Seated shoulder presses strengthen your shoulder muscles, and they can help improve your functional strength.
How to perform a seated shoulder press:
- Sit in a sturdy chair with your back firmly against the backrest and your feet firmly planted on the floor.
- With your legs shoulder-width apart, hold a light dumbbell (you can use a bottle of water) in each hand with an overhand grip. Start with a weight that’s comfortable for your strength level.
- Position the weights at shoulder level, with your upper arms parallel to the floor and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Fully extend your arms upward.
- Hold for three to five seconds, then return your arms to the starting position.
- Do five to 10 repetitions, taking breaks between each rep.
Core Chair Exercises For Seniors
Strengthening muscles in the central area of your body, including the hips, lower back and abdomen, can help improve posture, stability and overall functional strength. Let’s look at a few sitting exercises for seniors than can help boost your core strength:
The knee-to-chest exercise can help you improve core muscle strength and leg joint flexibility.
How to do knee-to-chest:
- Sit with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Move to the edge of the seat, leaving some space between your back and the backrest.
- Bend your right leg, and slowly bring your knee up toward your chest. Use both hands to support your knee.
- Gently pull your knee closer to your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in your lower back and glutes.
- Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Slowly return your leg to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
- Repeat for three to five minutes.
Extended Leg Raises
Extended leg raises are helpful for strengthening the muscles around your lower abdomen.
How to do extended leg raises:
- Sit in a sturdy chair with your back straight. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
- Support yourself by firmly gripping the chair handles.
- Slowly extend one leg straight out in front of you with your toes pointing upward.
- Raise the extended leg as high as you can.
- Hold for three to five seconds, keeping your core muscles tight.
- Slowly lower your leg back down to the starting position.
- Switch legs, and repeat five to 10 times.
Tummy twists help improve core strength by targeting your abdominal muscles.
How to do tummy twists:
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
- Lean back slightly, ensuring your torso is at a comfortable angle. Maintain this position throughout the exercise.
- Tighten your core as you slowly twist your torso to one side, moving your arms and upper body together.
- Pause briefly at the end of the twist, then slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat the twist on the opposite side.
- Do this five to 10 times.
Lower Body Chair Exercises For Seniors
Lower body chair exercises can help you strengthen your waist, legs, lower back and more. Here are some exercises to help you boost your strength:
Modified squats are a simpler variation of normal squats. This exercise can help improve your range of mobility by increasing strength and balance.
How to do modified squats:
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, position a sturdy chair behind you. You can place it against a wall to be sure it doesn’t move during the exercise.
- Extend your arms forward for balance, or place them on your hips.
- Lower your body until you lightly touch the chair, but do not fully sit down. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Pause for two to three seconds, then stand back up to the starting position.
- Take a break, and repeat the exercise for three to five minutes.
Toe taps can be a simple, yet effective way to improve flexibility and muscle strength in your legs.
How to do toe taps:
- Sit on the edge of a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Extend your legs straight in front of you, keeping your knees slightly bent.
- Lean back slightly, using your core muscles to maintain balance.
- Bend your toes upward, then downward to engage your shin and calf muscles.
- Repeat for three to five minutes, then switch legs.
Seated Calf Raises
Seated calf raises can be a good way to stretch tense calf muscles and improve mobility.
How to do seated calf raises:
- With your feet firmly planted on the floor and shoulder-width apart, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Try to keep your upper body upright throughout the exercise.
- Gently raise your heels by pushing up with your toes.
- Continue until you’re on your tiptoes, and hold this position for two to three seconds.
- Slowly lower back down.
- Repeat five to 10 times.
Here’s a beginner-friendly, full-body routine to help you get started with senior chair exercises. It’s important to take breaks between each exercise to give your body time to recover.
- Do gentle movements, like a light walk or body stretch, to warm up your muscles.
- Five minutes of banded chest press.
- 15 bicep curls in sets of five.
- Three minutes of knee-to-chest.
- 15 toe taps in sets of five.
- 10 modified squats.
- Cool down your muscles with a gentle stretch.
Tips For Getting Started With Chair Exercises
Let’s look at some tips to help you get started with chair exercises for seniors:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tight clothes can limit your range of movement.
- Start with slow, gentle movements to allow your muscles to warm up.
- Take adequate breaks between workouts. This allows your body to recover.
- Remember to eat well and drink enough water to keep your body energized and hydrated.
Safety Tips For Chair Exercises
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe during your workout:
- Start slow and build up intensity. This can help you avoid muscle injuries.
- Choose a sturdy chair without wheels, to reduce the risk of a fall.
- Always make sure the chair is on a flat, non-slip surface.
Active Living With StoryPoint Communities
Incorporating regular, low-impact workouts into your life can enhance both your physical and mental well-being. Whether through gentle exercises or tailored routines, staying active can help to keep or improve independence.
At StoryPoint communities, we offer a variety of fun, low-impact exercises to help enhance our residents’ well-being and overall quality of life. To learn what life is like with us, schedule a tour of your nearest community or give us a call at 1-844-403-6569.