Senior citizens who are having chronic pain, or being affected by mobility and balance problems can benefit from chair exercises that improve their cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, and fitness.
If you want to incorporate chair exercises into your daily fitness routine, start with simple stretching exercises and then move onto the more advanced options. All the exercises listed here can be modified with duration, repetitions, and weights according to your needs.
Seated Chair Stretches for Seniors
These are low-intensity exercises that loosen your muscles thereby preparing you for the busy day ahead.
1. Sit and Reach
- Extend both the legs forward, while sitting at the edge of a sturdy chair. Your heels should remain on the floor while the toes point toward the ceiling.
- Try to reach your toes by extending both your arms forward and gradually bending at your waist.
- Hold this position for a 10-count before returning to the starting position.
2. Chest Stretch
- Sit straight on a sturdy chair and keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Pull your arms back by grabbing one hand and keep both the hands down near your butt.
- Retract your shoulders slightly and hold this position for about 10 seconds.
- Return to the original position.
3. Neck Stretch
- Sitting on a chair, gradually tilt your head towards your right shoulder. You may bend your head by using the right hand as shown in the picture.
- Holding this position, extend your left hand to the side and then downward at your waist level.
- Return to the original position and then do it on your left side.
Repeat the movement 2-3 times on each side.
4. Hand Stretch
- Sitting on a chair, extend your arms in front and make sure to keep your palms down.
- Open your hands and spread your fingers apart.
- Close your hands.
Repeat the movement about 10 times.
Abdominal Chair Exercises for Seniors
Building a strong muscular foundation is important for improving your stability and balance. The following exercises can help you strengthen your abs and core, while encouraging spinal mobility.
1. Seated Torso Twist
- Sit on a chair with your back straight and feet hip-width apart.
- You may place your hands behind the head, or keep them on your thighs.
- Keep your pelvis stable and twist your torso towards your right so that it makes an angle of 45-degrees with the floor.
- Return to the original position, with your hips steady.
- Twist your torso towards your left as far as possible.
- Return to the original position.
Repeat 6-8 times on each side.
2. Seated Knee Lifts
- Keeping your back upright, sit on a chair.
- Gripping the seat or holding the armrests, draw both the knees towards your body until they touch your chest.
- Hold this position for 4-5 seconds before lowering the feet back to the original position.
Perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions each, with a minute’s rest between each set.
3. Modified Plank
- Placing the chair against the wall, position your hands on the seat so that they are shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your core engaged, step backward to position your body in a straight line with your head and heels.
- Hold this position for 20-60 seconds before going back to the standing position.
Repeat 3-4 times.
Simple Chair Exercises to make Seniors Stronger
These exercises involve basic movements and are suitable for developing balance and strength in beginners.
1. Tai Chi Chair Exercise
- Sitting on a chair, place your hands on your lap with the palms facing upward and the fingertips pointing to one another.
- While breathing in slowly, take your hands to the chest level.
- Turning your palms outward, raise your hands above the head and keep the elbows moderately bent.
- As you breathe out slowly, relax and lower your hands to the initial position with the palms turned upward.
Repeat the exercise 7-10 times.
2. Stands and Sits
- Sit in a sturdy chair and keep your arms at the sides.
- Stand up slowly.
- Return to your seated position.
Repeat 10-12 times.
3. Standing Toe Raises
- Stand tall while holding the back of a chair for balance, with your feet hip-width apart.
- Keeping your heels placed firmly on the floor, lift your toes.
- Lower the toes back to the original position.
Repeat 8-10 times.
When you try these exercises, make sure to keep yourself steady and balanced on the chair. Do the movements slowly and safely, without overexerting yourself.