We all know how important regular exercise is to maintaining strong bones and good health as we age. But with age often comes joint pain, muscle stiffness and reduced flexibility or mobility. It can be difficult to maintain a regular exercise regimen in your senior years, and it is particularly challenging for seniors with limited mobility. However, doing so is proven to maintain (and even improve) physical and mental acuity.
The good news is, seniors with limited mobility – or even those who just prefer an at-home, low-to-no-impact routine – can enjoy and benefit greatly from chair exercises. Simple chair exercises can help increase flexibility, tone muscles, elevate your heart rate and even boost your mood. Just Google chair exercises for seniors, and up comes everything from YouTube videos you can follow, to step-by-step guides with images on Pinterest, to DVDs on Amazon.
We’ve culled down some of the best information and resources to get you started.
Why Chair Exercises?
According to dailycaring.com, which provides many great health and wellness tips for caregivers of older adults, chair exercises are beneficial first and foremost because they reduce the risk of falling. It’s also a great way for wheelchair-bound seniors to get the health benefits of exercise.
Chair exercises can be just as challenging as standing workouts, especially for upper body and abdominal muscles. Exercising while sitting puts less pressure on lower body joints like knees or ankles, both of which can be bothersome areas for a senior.
Make sure you choose a sturdy chair with back support. You should be able to stand up and sit down repeatedly or move side to side while sitting without it sliding or tipping. Try to put the chair on a non-slip surface, but if your only option is a slicker surface, be sure the chair’s feet grip will keep it in place.
If you’re unsure of your ability to maintain your balance, ask a caregiver or friend to stand close by until you feel comfortable enough to complete the exercises on your own.
Let’s Get Moving
Once you feel secure about moving around and up and down in your chair, it’s time to get moving! Click on the links below for chair exercise recommendations for seniors as well as videos to get you started.
- Livestrong – This article includes instruction for all-over, body-toning moves: toe taps, sunshine arm circles, seated row, shoulder rolls, tummy twists, hand squeeze, glute squeeze, and knee lifts.
- DailyCaring – If you are looking for something short and sweet, this is a great 10-minute video of easy and effective seated exercises for older adults, recommended by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center.
- Stronger Seniors – This series of chair exercise videos for seniors is free on their YouTube Channel, or available for purchase on DVD. These videos cover everything from stretching, to resistance workouts and chair aerobics, to yoga and more.
- Eldergym® Senior Fitness – Claiming to be “Your Fitness Resource for Awesome Elders,” this website is chock full of chair exercise videos, categorized by the parts of the body. And when you click on an exercise, it even brings up a step-by-step guide with photos.
All of these chair exercises for seniors can be done easily, with very little equipment, in your own living room or at your community’s fitness center.