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Chair Exercises for Seniors: Step-by-Step Instructions

Posted by Lindsey Patton, Certified Health Coach on Sep 24, 2015
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Take your health care into your own hands by doing regular exercise, and start improving your wellness and overall quality of life. As you age, it may become more difficult to exercise the way you once did. Although it might be harder to run outside, go for a long bike ride or hit the stair climber, there are other ways to exercise that can still be beneficial to your health. Chair exercises provide a great option for seniors - they are low risk, boost your mood and increase your mobility. Best of all, they can be done in the privacy of your own home. 

chair_exercises_for_seniors_step_by_step_instructionsFor comfort, wear loose fitting, breathable clothing. Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight and pulling in your belly button as you perform the exercises. Good posture will support you during your workout and prevent injury.

Move slowly, and only move as far as you feel comfortable. Be sure to stay hydrated during exercise, and consult your physician before starting any new routine.

Learn how to exercise well and get the best sleep of your life. Download our  free eBook and learn how. 

Step-By-Step Chair Exercises

To maximize your chair exercise routine, you'll need a set of small dumbbells weighing anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds each, as well as a resistance band. Start your routine by doing a couple of exercises, then gradually add more to your routine. Repeat each movement 3 to 10 times.



1. Sitting Side Tilt

This is a great exercise to begin with because it warms up the body while improving core strength. Sit up straight in your chair and tilt your upper body as far as you can to the left, return to center, then repeat the exercise on your right.



Chair_Exercise_Sheet-back_archer2. Back Archer

The Back Archer will help to improve posture and open up your chest. Clasp your hands behind your back. Arch your back and push your hands away from you. Hold for 1-3 seconds, then release your hands and relax your back. Repeat.


Chair_Exercise_Sheet-shoulder-arcs3. Shoulder Arcs

This exercise strengthens the shoulders and works the rotator cuffs, which tend to be a problem area for older adults as those muscles are used less often. Hold a weight in each hand, palms facing in. Move your arms forward and up to shoulder level, then lower. You can also try moving your arms out to the side and raising them to shoulder height, then lowering them. As you build strength, raise your arms as high as possible over your head before lowering them. Repeat.


Chair_Exercise_Sheet-toe-up4. Toe Up

The Toe Up strengthens your calves. Press toes into the floor to raise your knees, then lower and press heels into the floor. Repeat.


Chair_Exercise_Sheet2-sitting-quad-set5. Sitting Quad Set

If you spend a significant amount of time in the sitting position, it is not uncommon to see muscle mass loss in your legs. To prevent muscle loss, the Sitting Quad Set will help keep your muscles strong and active. Raise your left foot to straighten your leg, tightening the muscle in your thigh. Hold for 10-30 seconds, then lower. Repeat with your right leg.


Chair_Exercise_Sheet2-chair-pushup6. Chair Push-up

Chair Push-ups can greatly improve stability and strengthen your core. Though this exercise is slightly more advanced, you can work up to it with time. Grip the arms of the chair and press down to push your buttocks up. Lower yourself back into the chair. Repeat.


Chair_Exercise_Sheet2-side-leg-kick7. Side Leg Kick

For improved balance and strengthening your legs, try the Side Leg Kick exercise. Stand up, holding the back of the chair for balance, and raise your left leg out to the side. Lower your left leg, then repeat with your right leg.



8. Leg Swing

The Leg Swing is another exercise that helps improve your balance and strengthen the legs. Stand behind your chair, holding the top for balance, and lift your left leg out in front of you. Swing your left leg out behind you, then bring back to the middle. Repeat with your right leg.



9. Ankle Bend

This exercise primarily works to improve your balance. Holding your chair for support, press your left heel into the floor and gently bend your ankle and raise your toes, keeping your body straight throughout the exercise. Lower your toes and repeat with right leg.


If you are just getting started with chair exercises, avoid injury by having another person there for support. They can help make sure you are using good form for each exercise. Listen to your body and start out slowly in the beginning. 

Partnering with a wellness professional can give you even more guidance on how to stay fit as you age. For example, PartnerMD members work with a dedicated Wellness Specialist who can focus on senior wellness

Find out how you can live a healthier life by downloading our free guide to healthy living today. 

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