Let’s talk about chair exercises. Exercise is one of the most important investments a person can make in their health. Even if you are viable and effective alternative that will make a substantial difference to your health and wellness. Your leg, arm and core muscles can get a workout from a seated position, reducing your future risk of injury from a fall.
Importance of exercise in older adults
Exercise is crucial for individuals of all age groups, but it holds special significance for older adults. Regular fitness routines have demonstrated their ability to enhance strength and flexibility, thereby reducing the risk of falls. Moreover, exercise has been associated with improvements in mental well-being, fostering a positive mood.
Nevertheless, there may be situations where limited mobility becomes a hindrance. Fortunately, this shouldn’t deter your fitness journey, as there is a multitude of exercises that can be performed while seated.
It doesn’t take much to get started exercising at home and the benefits are well worth the efforts. But, even so, please be sure to first consult with your GP, before you begin.
Now, let’s explore some chair-based workout ideas tailored for seniors.
All you need to get started is a sturdy chair and a couple of full water bottles or cans of vegetables.
Prior to embarking on any vigorous exercises, it’s essential to warm up. This helps get your blood flowing and minimises the likelihood of post-workout soreness. Several seated warm-up exercises can be incorporated.
Begin with marching in place.
– Start from a relaxed seated position with knees bent and heels grounded.
– Elevate and lower your feet rhythmically, mimicking a marching motion while swinging your arms in sync.
– March for 30 to 45 seconds, then take a brief breather.
– Repeat this exercise 2 to 3 times.
Another excellent warm-up exercise for the upper body involves arm circles.
– Extend your arms straight out and create small circular motions in the air for 30 to 45 seconds.
– Repeat as necessary.
Seated shoulder press
Work on your arm muscles by sitting in a comfortable chair and raising your arms above your head.
To kick it up a notch, hold a water or can of vegetables in each hand for weight resistance.
Seated chest press
Start with arms at a 90-degree angle and bring them out in front of the body, then relax and pull them back in. Again, adding weight is an option.
To build arm strength, try dumbbell curls. If you don’t have dumbbells, a substitute like a water bottle can work just as effectively.
– Sit with a bottle in each hand, resting your elbows on the chair’s armrests.
– Bend your arms so that your forearms are perpendicular to the ground.
– Slowly lower the weight until it’s parallel to the ground, then lift it back to the starting position.
– Repeat this motion 10 to 20 times.
Sitting to standing: Chair Squat
One of the most popular chair exercises for seniors is the chair squat, also known as sit-to-stand.
Just like it sounds, commence by standing with your heels against the back of the chair. Gradually lower yourself into the chair’s seat.
If possible, extend your arms in front of you for balance. You should feel this engaging your abdominal muscles and strengthening your legs.
To return to a standing position, position your heels shoulder-width apart and endeavor to rise through your knees.
If needed, use the chair’s armrests for support. If you can’t stand fully, aim to lift your body off the chair for a few seconds and then lower yourself back down.
For an added challenge, set a timer for a minute and see how many chair squats you can complete.
– For leg strength, start seated, gripping the chair’s armrests with a straight back.
– Raise your legs as high as comfortably possible while keeping your knees together.
– Attempt to extend your legs fully and hold for 5 to 10 seconds before slowly lowering them to the ground.
– Aim for 10 repetitions of this exercise.
Seated calf raises
– Begin seated with an upright posture and both feet flat on the ground.
– With feet flat on the floor, lift heels off the ground while keeping your toes planted, creating a stretch in your calf muscles.
– Aim for 5 to 10 repetitions on each foot, then finish with 10 reps using both calves simultaneously.
– Extend both legs away from your body.
– Lift one leg higher, return to starting position, then repeat with the other leg.
– Sit with an upright posture, ensuring you don’t lean back in your chair.
– Place your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing outward.
– Gradually twist your body to the right until you can’t twist any further, holding for a few seconds before returning to the center.
– Repeat this process to the left and continue for 10 to 15 repetitions.
– Sit comfortably in a chair and rotate your head from left to right until a gentle stretch is felt.
– Hold for 20-30 seconds.
– While seated, place hands on your hips.
– Slowly arch your back inward while keeping spine straight, then lean backward using only the upper body.
Seated side stretch:
– With one hand, grip the side of the chair when seated.
– Extend your opposite arm over your head, making a shape similar to an elongated letter C.
– Shift your upper torso in the direction of the hand holding the chair, and hold for 10-20 seconds.
– Switch sides and repeat.
Limited mobility shouldn’t impede your fitness goals. You can achieve an effective workout without leaving your chair. Always be mindful of your physical limitations and avoid pushing yourself too hard to prevent potential injuries or falls. Feel free to modify these exercises as necessary to accommodate any injury, limitation or joint issues.