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15 Chair Exercises for Seniors

Everyone knows that exercise plays a crucial role in living a healthy life, but as we age, exercising becomes increasingly challenging.

When thinking about exercise, running for miles, or lifting heavy weights at the gym may be many people’s first thought. But there are many ways to stay active no matter your age or ability. Chair exercises are becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst those in their senior years, and are a great way to maintain an active lifestyle even if your mobility is not what it used to be.

In this guide, we have compiled our top 15 chair exercises for seniors, all of which can be performed no matter your fitness ability. They range from stretching exercises to sitting exercises – we have even included some chair yoga exercises.

 

What do I need for chair exercises?

All you need for chair exercises is a chair and of course the motivation to exercise! If you’re wanting to challenge yourself, many of these exercises can be accompanied by light dumbbells or a resistance band. Some of these exercises are so simple you could even encourage your loved ones to take part without them even realising.

 

How often should seniors do chair exercises?

The NHS guidelines suggest adults aged 65 and over should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. This could be a mix of chair exercises, walking with loved ones or any activity that raises your heart rate.

Although exercise is a great way to keep fit, there are many other ways to improve your health and wellbeing at an older age, from ensuring your diet is nutritious to staying connected with family and friends.

Arm raises

Helps build shoulder strength

Step 1: Sit backwards in a chair with your arms by your side

Step 2: Ensuring your palms are forward and keeping your arms straight, raise both arms out and to the side, then raise them as far up as is comfortable

Step 3: Put your arms back to the starting position

Step 4: Breath out as you’re raising your arms and breath in when you start to lower your arms

Step 5: Aim to repeat this exercise 5 times

Neck rotation

Improves neck flexibility and mobility

Step 1: Sit with your back against the back of the chair, maintaining a straight back. Try to remain in this position throughout the exercise

Step 2: Start to move your head towards one of your shoulders, as far as feels comfortable

Step 3: Keep in this position for 20 seconds

Step 4: Slowly return your head to the starting position and move your head towards your other shoulder

Step 5: Repeat this motion 3 times in both directions

Chest stretch

This stretch helps improve posture and can relieve upper back pain

Step 1: Sit backwards in a chair with your back straight.

Step 2: Place your finger tips on your shoulders.

Step 3: Slowly start to move your chest in a forward direction until you feel your chest stretching.

Step 4: Hold this position for up to 10 seconds

Step 5: Repeat this exercise 5 times

Chair squat

Helps build and strengthen thighs and calves

Step 1: Sit towards the edge of a chair with your back straight, arms to the sides and try to keep your core tight, ensuring your chest is out

Step 2: With your toes pointed forward, slowly begin to stand up while maintaining a straight back with your chest pushed out

Step 3: Once you have stood up tall, make your way back down to the starting position

Step 4: Repeat this exercise 10 times

Step 5: When performing this exercise, ensure your knees are not bending inwards, this exercise uses your hips to allow you to perform the squat through a thrust motion

Seated side stretch

Stretches the neck, shoulders, back and obliques

Step 1: Sit in a chair with a straight back and with your feet on the floor

Step 2: Start by placing your right hand on the side of your chair for stability

Step 3: Straighten your left arm and try and make a ‘C’ shape over your head

Step 4: Slowly move the upper torso to the right-hand side

Step 5: Hold this contraction for 10 seconds

Step 6: Repeat this exercise 5 times per side

Tip: When performing this exercise, it’s best to keep a tight core and ensure you are not collapsing on yourself when moving your torso to one side

Shoulder rolls

Helps improve posture and relieve tension in the shoulders

Step 1: Sit in a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor

Step 2: Begin by moving your shoulders up in a shrugging motion

Step 3: When your shoulders are closest to your ears, slowly rotate them in a circular motion from back to front

Step 4: After one rotation you should end up in the beginning position with your shoulders up by your ears. Now roll your shoulders in the other direction going from front to back

Step 5: Repeat this motion 10 times in both directions.

Overhead press

Helps strengthen shoulder muscles

Step 1: Sit on a chair with your back straight

Step 2: Bend your arms and place them towards your shoulders ensuring your palms are facing out.

Step 3: Straighten your arms over your head as far as you can

Step 4: Once your arms are lifted, start to lower them back to the beginning position.

Step 5: Repeat this exercise 5 times

Tip: If you want to challenge yourself even further, hold light weights in your hands. You can even use food tins if you don’t have any light weights.

Standing side leg raises

Supports the strengthening of the hip, thighs and buttocks

Step 1: Begin by standing behind your chair and using it as support.

Step 2: One leg at a time, slowly raise one leg out to the side.

Step 3: Try to lift your leg as high as you can while maintaining to stand up straight.

Step 4: Hold your leg in this position for a few seconds before lowering your leg.

Step 5: Repeat this exercise with your other leg.

Step 6: Try to perform 10 side leg raises per leg.

Seated torso twist

Helps strengthen core

Step 1: Begin by sitting straight on a chair, your feet flat on the ground.

Step 2: As you inhale, twist your torso to one side as far as you can.

Step 3: Now twist your torso in the other direction as far as you can as you exhale.

Step 4: As you return to your original position, remember to exhale.

 

How to strengthen your legs while sitting

If mobility is a challenge for you, here are the best exercises to strengthen your legs while sitting.

Ankle stretch

Helps improve ankle flexibility

Step 1: Sit in a chair with your back straight and arms by your side.

Step 2: Put your hands on the sides of the chair as a grip.

Step 3: One leg at a time, lift your leg straight in front of you and point your toes away from you.

Step 4: Now try to point your toes towards you, moving your ankle.

Step 5: Repeat this back and forth stretch motion 5 times per foot.

Seated calf raises

Helps strengthen the calf muscle

Step 1: Sit comfortably in a chair, as far back as possible with your back straight. Similar to other exercises, try to keep your core tight and chest out.

Step 2: To help stability, use your hands to grip the sides of the chair.

Step 3: Position your legs at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor.

Step 4: Keeping your toes on the floor at all times, lift your heels upwards and bring them back down.

Step 5: Repeat this motion 20 times.

Tip: To know it’s working you should feel a slight burning sensation on your calves – don’t worry, this means you’re doing it right!

Leg extensions

Helps strengthen the thigh and leg muscles

Step 1: Sit in a chair with your back straight, hips as far back as possible and arms by your side.

Step 2: Put your hands on the sides of the chair as a grip.

Step 3: One leg at a time, extend one leg in the air and keep the other leg on the floor at a 90-degree angle.

Step 4: Now it’s time to repeat the leg extension with your other leg.

Step 5: Repeat this exercise 10 times per leg.

Seated pillow squeeze

Helps strengthen the inner thigh

Step 1: Sit in a chair ensuring you have a straight back.

Step 2: Place a pillow between your legs, in between your thighs or knees.

Step 3: Start to squeeze the pillow by moving your thighs or knees together.

Step 4: Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.

Step 5: Repeat this exercise 12 times.

Seated clamshells

Helps activate hip movement and strengthens the glutes

Step 1: Sit in a chair, keeping your back straight and your feet on the floor.

Step 2: Place your hands on the outside of your legs with your palms facing inwards.

Step 3: Simultaneously contract the muscles on the outside of your hips by moving your knees away from each other while your hands are pushing your knees inwards as a resistance.

Step 4: Hold this contraction for 3 seconds.

Step 5: Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Hip marching

Helps strengthen hips and thighs

Step 1: Sit in a chair with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and arms by your side

Step 2: Begin by lifting 1 leg as high as comfortable while keeping your knee bent.

Step 3: Once you have lifted your leg, lower your leg and return to the beginning position.

Step 4: Repeat this movement with your other leg

Step 5: Repeat hip marching 5 times for each leg.

 

Chair yoga exercises for seniors

Along with increasing flexibility and improving strength, chair yoga has also been proven to reduce pain and improve sleep.

Chair raised hands pose

Helps to promote good posture

Step 1: Sit on a chair with your back straight and hands to the side

Step 2: As you inhale, lift your arms toward the ceiling as far as comfortable

Step 3: Maintaining a straight back, hold the position for 3 seconds

Step 4: On exhale, slowly lower your arms back to the beginning position

Tip: It’s important to maintain a good posture while doing this pose so your shoulders are relaxed.

Seated mountain

Helps engage the core and encourages correct posture

Step 1: Sit on a chair with your back straight and legs at a 90-degree angle.

Step 2: Keep your legs close together, ideally, your fist should fit between your knees.

Step 3: Take a deep breath in and lift your shoulders.

Step 4: As you exhale, lower your shoulders and relax your arms.

Forward bend

Contributes to strengthening the core

Step 1: Sit on a chair with your hands on your thighs and with a straight back.

Step 2: As you inhale, engage your belly and lift your spine.

Step 3: As you exhale, begin to fold forward by using your hip, keeping your back straight.

Step 4: As you fold forward, you should be able to feel a stretch. Once this happens, take five deep breaths.

Step 5: Slowly make your way back up to the beginning position, taking breaths along the way if needed.

 

Looking for more fitness inspiration?

Check out our blog to find three fitness challenges to try at home and continue your fitness journey.

 

Wellbeing at Platinum Skies

The wellbeing of our homeowners is of the utmost importance in all our retirement communities on the South Coast. Chapters, Vista, Esprit, Sherborne and Taunton all feature a multi-activity studio room with frequent wellbeing classes organised by our community managers. Find out more about what life is like at Platinum Skies here.

 

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