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Just because you’re wheelchair user or have limited mobility, it doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise. Chair exercises are a fantastic option for seniors who have impaired balance and struggle to work out while standing, which is why we’ve rounded up nine of the best chair exercises for seniors below.
As with all workouts, we recommend choosing easy-to-put-on clothing for the elderly that will allow you to move freely and well-fitting shoes with a skid-resistant sole. Don’t forget to properly warm up before your workout and cool down afterward too. Once you feel strong enough, you can make the upper body moves harder by adding in a pair of light dumbbells or some resistance bands.
Start with your elbows bent and your hands right in front of your shoulders. Lift your arms until they are straight above your head, and then lower them to the starting position. You may not be able to straighten your arms all the way at the beginning; just raise them as much as possible and work on increasing your range of motion.
Straight Arm Lifts
Start by letting your arms hang loose at your sides on either side of the chair. Slightly bend your elbows so they don’t lock out, tighten up your arm muscles and raise them straight in front of you. Try to raise your hands to shoulder height if possible, and then lower them to the starting position. If it’s too difficult to raise both of your arms at once, then alternate one arm at a time.
Raise your arms and bend your elbows until your hands are resting at chest height. Straighten your arms and push your hands forward (but don’t lock out your elbows), and then bend your arms to return your hands to the starting position.
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Start by letting your arms hang loose at your sides on either side of the chair. Bend your elbows and raise your hands until they are as close to your shoulders as possible, and then lower them down to the starting position. If it’s too difficult to raise both of your arms at once, then alternate one arm at a time.
Clasp your hands together (or grab a single dumbbell), and then raise your arms until they are straight above your head. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your hands behind your head, being careful not to bump your head. Once you’ve lowered your arms as far as they can go, reverse the motion and raise your hands again to return to the starting position and complete the tricep extension.
Knee to Chest
While this exercise works your legs, we recommend using your hands to grasp the arms of the chair to anchor yourself for extra support. With both your knees bent, plant one foot firmly on the floor. Raise the other knee as close to your chest as you can, and then lower it to the floor. Repeat on the other leg.
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This is the more advanced version of the knee-to-chest exercise we just described above. Again, we recommend using your hands to anchor yourself to the chair for stability. Bend one knee and plant that foot firmly on the floor. Straighten the other leg as much as possible (but don’t lock out the knee) and raise it as far off the ground as you can. Lower it back down to the ground, and then switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Place both of your feet on the ground about hip distance apart, with your knees bent at roughly a 90 degree angle. Rock your feet back on your heels to lift up your toes, and then lower them to the ground until your feet are flat on the floor once again. You can alternate feet if doing both at once upsets your balance too much.
Similar to the toe lift exercise above, you will start by placing both of your feet on the ground about hip distance apart, with your knees bent at roughly a 90 degree angle. However, instead of lifting your heels, this time you will lift your heels, keeping the balls of your feet anchored on the floor. Lower them to the ground until your feet are flat on the floor once again. Again, you can alternate feet if doing both at once upsets your balance too much.
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