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10 Effective Seated Chair Exercises For Seniors


Discover 10 gentle and effective chair exercises for seniors to improve strength and flexibility without standing up. Ideal for low-impact workouts at any age!

Exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regardless of age. For older adults, finding an exercise program that is safe and accessible can be a challenge. That’s where seated chair workouts come in – they offer a low-impact, safe, and effective way to stay active while sitting down.

Chair exercises for seniors are a great exercise routine option for anyone who’s intimidated by resistance training.

For example, if you’re wobbly on your feet, trying to curl a set of dumbbells while keeping your balance can be tough. You can sit in a chair and start working on your abdominal strength. The goal is to avoid falling.

In this article, we’ll dive into 10 seated chair exercises specifically designed for seniors. This workout for seniors is beginner-friendly, easy to follow, and requires nothing more than a sturdy chair.

Whether you have lower body mobility issues or just prefer exercising in a seated position, these body chair exercises can help you maintain regular exercise and promote overall well-being. They will also help keep your heart healthy, bones and muscles strong, weight under control, and mood at optimal levels. 

If you’re looking for a low-impact way to get your resistance training done, seated exercises are the way to go.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of chair exercises for seniors. Then, try out the 10 seated exercises we’d recommend for any senior looking to get strong and fit!

It’s never too late to start, so what are you waiting for?

Chair exercises are an excellent way for seniors to stay active, no matter their ability. Not only are these exercises safe and low-impact, but they also provide a range of benefits for overall wellness.

From improved strength, flexibility, and balance to better blood circulation, there are many benefits of chair exercises for seniors.

Here are just a handful of the perks of using this exercise for seniors:

Chair Exercises are More Accessible

Standing exercises can be risky if your balance or mobility is less-than-great. While it’s important to practice standing exercises to improve your balance and mobility, you may need a safer movement option if you’re exercising by yourself or just starting to lift weights.

Seated exercises allow you to reap the benefits of resistance training without fear of falling down and breaking a bone. They are a great option for individuals with limited mobility.

Build Lean Muscle

The sad truth is most of us lose 25% of our valuable muscle mass by our 70th birthday. Thankfully, seated exercises are one of your best options for rebuilding any lost muscle — especially if they incorporate resistance bands or dumbbells for a fuller body workout.

You can try any of my favorite home gym products for seniors from Amazon.

And adding muscle will make everyday life a lot easier, from carrying heavy bags to getting up without having to use the back of the chair. 

Increase Blood Circulation

Seated exercises wake up your muscles and other tissues, moving blood and other fluids through your limbs in the process. Boosting blood flow is a big deal, especially as we get older and more sedentary.

Strength training will also challenge your heart, which helps to improve cardiovascular health.

Chair Exercises for Seniors Improve Joint Health

Moving your limbs as you lift weights encourages your joints to self-lubricate. Seated exercises will go a long way toward improving range of motion and reducing stiffness and other joint soreness.

Remember, motion is lotion! 

Prevents Bone Fractures

Osteoporosis — and the broken bones that go with it — is a common symptom of aging. Whether it’s your left leg, right leg, left foot, or right foot, something is bound to happen without preventative movement.

By challenging your muscles through seated exercises, you can build greater bone strength, which may prevent painful fractures. 

Overall, chair exercises are an excellent way for seniors to maintain their physical health and stay active. You can even try chair yoga!

By incorporating these exercises into their routine, seniors can improve their strength, flexibility, and balance while reducing the risk of falls and joint pain.

It’s not uncommon to pack on a few pounds around your midsection as you age. You can blame a slowed metabolism and decrease in energy-burning muscle tissue.

Aside from the annoyance that carrying extra weight can bring, it also increases your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Seated exercises — like the ones below — may help you lose those extra pounds. Just make sure you do them consistently to see maximum benefits. Try to work hard enough to get your heart pumping during the exercises.  

Starting chair exercises, or anything new, can seem daunting. But don’t worry, this workout is simple and accessible. It’s a great way to get back into moving.

Here are some beginner-friendly tips to help you get the most out of your seated workouts:

Choose the Right Chair

For seated exercises, you’ll need a sturdy, stable chair without wheels. Look for a chair with a straight back and a firm seat.

Avoid chairs with arms as they can limit your movement.

A few options include:

Folding Chair (easy storage, but make sure to choose a sturdy one)
Dining Chair (sturdy and avoid a super cushioned seat)
Office Chair (be careful of wheels, make sure they lock in place)

Maintain Proper Posture

When doing seated exercises, maintaining proper posture is crucial. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground and your hands resting on your thighs.

Keep your shoulders relaxed, and your chin parallel to the floor. Avoid hunching forward or arching your back.

Warm Up Before You Begin

Before starting, spend a few minutes warming up your muscles. You can do some gentle stretches or march in place to get your heart rate up.

This prepares your body for exercise and helps to prevent injury.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be ready to start your chair exercises below and enjoy the numerous benefits they offer.

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We’ve rounded up several of the top seated exercises for seniors. Several of these exercises require dumbbells, so pick a weight that feels safe and comfortable for you.

If you’re stuck without a set of dumbbells, look around your house for something you can use as makeshift weights: water bottles, soup cans, and even laundry detergent can be great options. 

Do these exercises two or three times per week. Shoot for a single set of 10 repetitions for each exercise.

If you’re a beginner, start with five repetitions of each and work your way up. 

1. Seated Side Bends

How to perform a seated side bend:

Sit in a chair with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Bend your right arm to bring your right hand to the right side of your head. Allow your left arm to hang at your side. Keep an upright posture; don’t slouch or lean back in the chair. 
Inhale. As you exhale, bend gently at the waist to lower your left arm toward the floor. Keep your chest open and pull your right elbow back to feel a stretch in your right side. 
Inhale to return to starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

Muscle Groups Targeted: Internal and External Obliques

2. Seated Calf Raises

How to perform a seated calf raise:

Sit tall on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. 
Lift your heels off the ground until you feel a squeeze in your calves.
Slowly lower your heels back down and repeat. 
To make the exercise harder, balance a dumbbell on the top of each knee. 

Muscle Groups Targeted: Calves

3. Seated Single-Leg Extensions

How to perform a seated single-leg extension:

Sit tall in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and grasp the sides of the seat.
Keeping one foot planted and your upper body fixed, extend your opposite leg until it’s parallel to the floor. 
Bend your knee to return your foot to the ground. Repeat for the desired number of reps. Then switch to the other leg. 

Muscle Groups Targeted: Quads, Hamstrings, Abdominals

4. Seated Knee-to-Elbow

How to perform a seated knee-to-elbow:

Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground. Clasp your hands behind your head, elbows wide.
Twist your upper body to the right and lift your right knee to tap your left elbow. 
Return to the starting position and twist to the left to repeat the movement on the opposite side. Continue for reps.

Muscle Groups Targeted: Rectus Abdominis, Obliques, Quads, Hamstrings

5. Chair Squats

How to perform a chair squat:

Stand directly in front of your chair, facing away from it with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward.
Keeping your chest lifted, bend your knees to sit your hips down and back. Gently tap the chair with your butt. 
Push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat.

Muscle Groups Targeted: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings

6. Seated Dumbbell Biceps Curls

How to perform a seated dumbbell biceps curl:

Sit tall in a chair and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Let them hang at arm’s length by your sides, palms facing forward. 
Keeping your arms tight against your sides, bend your elbows to curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders. 
Lower the weights back down until your arms are straight again. Repeat.

Muscle Groups Targeted: Biceps, Abdominals

7. Seated Dumbbell Overhead Shoulder Presses

How to perform a seated dumbbell overhead shoulder press:

Sit tall in a chair. Lift your elbows out to the side to create a goal post position with your arms, dumbbells on either side of your head. 
Tighten your abdominals and press the dumbbells up slowly until your arms are straight. 
Slowly return to the starting position with control. Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

Muscle Groups Targeted: Shoulders, Biceps, Abdominals

8. Seated Dumbbell Rows

How to perform a seated dumbbell row:

Sit in a chair. Hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides with palms facing each other. 
Bend slightly forward at the hips. Keeping your elbows close to your body, squeeze your shoulder blades together and drive your elbows back until your upper arms are nearly parallel to the floor. 
Slowly return to the starting position with control. Repeat. 

Muscle Groups Targeted: Upper Back, Shoulders, Abdominals

9. Seated Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks

How to perform a seated triceps kickback:

Sit in a chair and lean forward until your chest is almost parallel to your thighs, with arms bent at 90-degree angles, and dumbbells to the sides of your chest.
Keeping your back flat and elbows hugging your sides, press both dumbbells back until your arms are straight.  
Return the arms back to a 90-degree angle with control. Repeat.

Muscle Groups Targeted: Triceps, Shoulders, Upper Back

10. Seated Forward Roll-ups

How to perform a seated forward roll-up:

Sit in a chair with your legs extended, heels on the floor, and feet flexed towards your face. Extend your arms in front of you. Keep an upright posture; don’t slouch or lean back in the chair. 
Begin curling your chin to your chest. Exhale as you roll the entire torso up and over, keeping your legs straight, and abs engaged. Reach down towards the toes. 
Once you can’t reach any further, inhale as you begin to roll back up to the starting position, one vertebra at a time. 
Repeat moving slowly. Avoid using momentum; try to use your abdominals to lift and lower.

As we have seen, incorporating chair exercises into a senior’s daily routine can have numerous benefits for their well-being. Not only do these exercises improve strength, flexibility, and balance, but they also promote good cardiovascular health and alleviate joint pain.

Seated workouts are accessible, safe, and can be done from the comfort of a chair, making them an ideal choice for seniors with mobility issues.

Regularly practicing these exercises can help seniors maintain independence in their daily activities and lead an active lifestyle. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced exerciser, there are many chair exercises tailored to different needs and fitness levels.

So why not try incorporating these safe and easy seated exercises into your routine and see the difference they can make in your life!

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