Chair Exercises for Seniors

Performing chair exercises for seniors at least 3 times a week will greatly help you live a healthy life with improved strength, flexibility, and stamina. A strong body will reduce your risk of falls and improve your ability to perform your activities of daily living.

Make sure to set aside some time several times per week for your exercise routine. This will help you set a great habit of exercise that is consistent and timely. Seated exercises are a very nice place to start your program. You can work your arms, legs, and core from the chair.

  1. Marching with Arms
  2. Seated Lift
  3. Ceiling and Toes
  4. Russian Twist
Watch my instructional video

The first exercise is marching in place with arm swings. This is a great way to warm up and limber your arms and legs. This will improve the blood flow into the large muscles of the legs and buttock area, and go a long way to improve the range of motion in your joints. Next the seated life is provided to work on not only your core but your shoulders, arm and upper back. Moving on to the ceiling to toe movement we are performing some aerobics and trunk strengthening moves. Then we finish off with a classic core exercise which is the Russian twist. Make sure not to touch the back of the chair when performing this exercise.

Exercise 1

Seated Marching with Arm Swings. Begin seated on the front part of the chair. First start marching by bringing up your knees in an alternating fashion. Then add your arm swings, remembering that the arm follows the opposite knee as it is lifted. This will get you in good synchronization.

Exercise 2

Seated Chair Lift. Begin seated on the front part of your chair without armrests. Hold on to either side of the seat next to your thighs. Lean forward as if to start standing by pushing up from the chair. This is a shoulder movement only, your arms are straight and do not help with the movement. Lift your bottom off the chair as much as possible. If you can not lift your bottom, then just unweight your bottom. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 3

Ceiling to Toes. Begin by sitting near the front of your chair. Raise both hands to the ceiling, pause, then bring your hands down to your toes. Repeat this motion for a minute.

Exercise 4

Russian Twist. Sit in your chair like you are going to take a nap. Interlace your fingers together in front of your waist. Lean back just enough to feel the chair lightly on your shirt but do not support your back on the chair. Begin twisting side to side using your hands for momentum. Continue for one minute.

For chair exercises for seniors, make sure you have the right equipment to start including the right chair. I like a good folding chair with a seat. These are easily stored when you are done the workout. They have no arm rests to get in the way of your arms during upper body exercises. Wear comfortable clothing that is loose fitting and good footwear that is supportive if you have any orthopedic foot issues. If you are exercising on wooden floors, you may want to invest in a rubber mat so that the chair does not slide on the floor during various movements. This is especially true of folding chairs which can definitely slide.

If you experience any pain in your joint during this exercise program, then stop and make sure you are aggravating your body. We don’t want pain. Exercises should feel like work and may produce some muscle belly discomfort, but joint pain should be avoided.

Always think posture when exercising in a chair. I like to sit toward the front end of a chair with my feet flat on the floor, my chest lifted, my chin up and my eyes looking straight ahead, arms down by my sides. This way I know I am in a good position to begin the routine.

Chair exercises for seniors can be a great way to improve your arm, leg, and core strength as well as have fun. Seated exercises are the safest way to get started on a new exercise program and will be less likely to cause any delayed muscle soreness, or joint pain, allowing you to begin to get into the habit of exercises quickly and easily.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.