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The Best Seated Exercises to Build Strength

Many older adults think that exercising isn’t possible for them due to mobility issues. If you’re one of them, it can be extremely frustrating because sometimes, you just want to get your body moving and let everything out! The good news is that even if you have mobility issues, exercise is still an option for you! Establishing a routine by introducing chair exercises is a solid way to incorporate strength training and stretching.

The best parts about chair exercises is that they have shown to help with mobility as you age and that they’re an easy way to incorporate movement into your routine by just using a strong, stable chair and your body. You can do these exercises anywhere and be confident that you’re keeping your muscles strong and yourself independent. 

Safety Tips

Although chair exercises involve being in a seated and stable position, there are still some safety ideas to think about:

  • Don’t start off with an intense workout. Work your way up in intensity so that your body can adjust to the exercises.
  • Make sure to have a stable chair and an area that will allow for the movements that you need to complete sitting. 
  • Before starting your exercises, make sure to warm your body up so that it won’t be strained, and cool down your body when you are done. 
  • Remember to breathe while doing your exercises. Breathe out while lifting or pushing. It’s easy to forget to breathe while you are focusing on your movements so make sure to keep that oxygen flowing. 

Chair Based Exercises

Lower Body

  • Ankle Raises
    1. Sitting up in chair with feet on the ground
    2. Lift the front of the right foot off the ground but keep the heel planted
    3. Keep left foot planted on the ground
    4. Lower right foot and repeat steps with the left foot
  • Heel Raises
    1. Sitting up in chair with feet on the ground
    2. Lift the heel of the right foot off the ground but keep the toes planted
    3. Keep left foot planted on the ground
    4. Lower right foot and repeat steps with the left foot
  • Knee Extensions
    1. Sitting up in chair with feet on the ground
    2. Lift one leg off the ground by straightening your knee; hold and lower
    3. Repeat with other leg
  •  Leg Lifts
    1. Sitting up in chair with feet on the ground
    2. Lift one leg with knee bent and lower slowly
    3. Repeat with other leg

Upper Body

  • Shoulder Raises
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Place both arms at your sides, letting them hang naturally with palms facing your body
    3. Bring both arms straight up in front of you, letting them raise until they are parallel to the ground
  • Chest Press
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Extend both arms to shoulder level, keeping palms down
    3. Bring arms in, pushing the elbows back but keeping them parallel to the shoulders, palms stay shoulder width apart
    4. Extend both arms again and repeat
  • Bicep Curls
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Place both arms at your sides, letting them hang naturally with palms facing your body
    3. Keeping elbows tucked, move both arms by bending your elbows in a curling motion to touch as close to the shoulders as possible

Chair Based Stretches

  • Neck Turns
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Rotate head from left to right to feel a gentle stretch
  • Overhead Stretch
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Take a deep breath and stretch arms overhead, keeping your feet planted on the ground
    3. Release breathe and bring arms back down
  • Upper Back Stretch
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Take a deep breath and create a circle with your arm while keeping feet planted on the ground
    3. Drop your chin to your chest and focus on expanding your shoulder blades
    4. Release breathe and bring arms back down
  • Side Stretch
    1. Sit comfortably in your chair as far back as possible; make sure your back is supported by the chair
    2. Use your right arm to stabilize yourself by holding onto the chair
    3. Take a deep breath and stretch left arm overhead, creating a c shape 
    4. Release breathe and bring arms back down
    5. Repeat with your right side

Things to Remember

Because you’re starting a new fitness routine, it’s crucial to make sure not to overexert yourself while doing these exercises. Listen to your body and know when it is necessary to stop a movement to avoid injury. If you are unsure about adding these new activities to your daily routines, please make sure to consult with your doctor. 

Additional Resources

Chair Yoga for Seniors

Effects of Chair Based Exercises for Seniors

Chair Exercises are Beneficial for Seniors

Healthy Hive

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