Chair Exercises for Seniors

Chair Exercises for Elderly People | By: Carri Ward for LIVESTRONG.COM

Exercise comes in many forms and varieties, including chair exercises. Chair exercises effectively assist elderly individuals to exercise and move without putting undo pressure or strain on their bodies. Movement works to lubricate joints and keep them flexible, strengthen and stabilize individual muscles and increase blood circulation. These exercise and movement outcomes result in a decreased number of falls and an increased ability to better accomplish day to day physical activities. Chair exercises should be performed on a sturdy straight-backed chair with both feet sitting flat on the ground unless otherwise stated.

Toe Taps

Keep the heels on the ground and bend the toes up towards the ceiling and back to the ground. To increase the range of motion, sit towards the edge of chair with the legs straight and the heel touching the ground. In this position, point the toes down towards the ground and then up towards the ceiling. Repeat these exercises eight to 10 times.

Sunshine Arm Circles

In this exercise the individual has a ball and holds it above the head. Always keep the elbows slightly bent and then circle the ball left, down, right, and back up in a big circle. Reverse directions each time and repeat eight to 10 times. It the individual is unable to get the ball above the head then holding it straight out in front and moving the arms around in a circle will also work. This exercise may also be done without a ball.

Seated Row

Sit on the edge of the chair for greater range of motion. Holding the arms out in front with thumbs towards the ceiling and the elbows bent, draw both elbows back as far as possible while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Release and repeat eight to 10 times. This may also be done one arm at a time pulling the shoulder blade in towards the spine.

Shoulder Rolls

Sitting tall in the chair, shrug both shoulders up towards the ears and slowly rotate them to the back, down, around to the front, and back to the top. Repeat and switch directions, rotating them towards the front and around to the back. Alternate directions 10 times.

Tummy Twists

Hold a ball waist height with the arms forming a 90 degree angle and pulled in to the sides. Rotate the upper torso to the left as far as possible, back to the middle and then to the right side. Only the upper body is moving. Keep the abdominal muscles in by imagining the belly button being sucked into the back or the spine. Repeat the exercise 10 times on each side. This exercise may be done without a ball.

Lateral and Front Shoulder Raises

Arms start at the side and are raised to the side with the palms down. Raise arms until they are parallel with the ground, then lower them again. This exercise must be slow and controlled. Avoid quick, jerky movements. Complete 10 shoulder raises to the side. Front shoulder raises are performed by lifting the arms straight out in front with the palms down. Raise the arms until they are parallel with the floor and lower. Repeat 10 times.

Hand Squeeze

Holding a ball in front of you, squeeze the hands together as if trying to get the air out of it, release and repeat 10 to 12 times. This works the chest and arms. To increase intensity, while slightly squeezing the ball, push it straight out in front of you and then pull it back in to the chest. A slow controlled movement will produce better results.

Glute Squeeze

Squeeze the buttocks muscles together while sitting on the chair. Hold the squeeze for a couple of seconds and release. Repeat eight to 10 times.

Knee Lifts

Slowly lift the right knee in towards the chest and then return to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg. Continue alternating eight to 10 times on each side.

Knee Extensions

Grip the side of the chair and extend the knee so that the foot comes off the ground. Slowly kick the foot forward until the leg is almost straight out in front of you. Leave a slight bend in the knee for safety. Lower and repeat 10 to 12 times on the same leg before switching to the other side.


Published on March 4, 2013.