Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

9 Stimulating Sitting Exercises for Seniors

sitting seniors stretching arms upward
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By wavebreakmedia /

Just because you’re chair-bound doesn’t mean that you can’t get your exercise in! There are plenty of chair exercises that you can do in a seated position, so even if you’re not able to stand up, you can still get your blood flowing. Here are nine chair exercises for seniors — and don’t forget to grab some adaptive clothing for working out!

Arm Circles

Hold your arms straight out your sides, forming an uppercase T shape with your upper body. Ideally, your arms should be in line with your shoulders, but if you can’t lift them that high, then just raise them as much as you can. Create little circles with your hands by rotating your shoulders. Do 10 circles clockwise and then another 10 counterclockwise.

Bicep Curls

You can use weights or resistance bands for this, or simply use your body weight. Start with your arms dangling by the sides of your chair. Loosely curl your fists and bend your arms at your elbow until your hands almost touch your shoulders. Lower your hands to the starting position to repeat the first rep. Try to do 10 reps with resistance or 20 reps without.

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Overhead Press

This is another exercise that can be done with or without resistance. Start with your hands loosely curled into fists and position right to your shoulders, with your elbows tight into your sides. Raise the weights above you, keeping your arms straight but not locking out your elbows. Lower your hands to the starting position to repeat the first rep. Try to do 10 reps with resistance or 20 reps without.

woman lifting weight with computer
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By Sun Shock /

row seniors sit and stretch
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By wavebreakmedia /

Chair Press-up

This is a functional exercise that will help you get better at pushing yourself into a standing position. Sit in a chair that does not roll or move and plant your feet on the floor about hip distance apart. Grip the arms of the chair firmly and shift your weight into your feet. Using your upper body strength, push yourself into a half standing position (but don’t let go of the chair arms) and then lower yourself down in a sitting position. Do five to 10 reps depending on how strong your upper body is.


Chair exercises aren’t only about strength training. You can also get in some cardio with punches. You can do basically any style of punch in a seated position, including jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts. Try out different combinations to add some variety to your routine and get your heart pumping in between other exercises. Make sure to do this in a sturdy chair that won’t roll or flip so you don’t accidentally tip over.

Booty Squeeze

You can still work your lower body even in a seated position. To do a booty squeeze, simply contract your gluteal muscles, hold them for five seconds and then release. Repeat this five to 10 times until your muscles begin to feel tired. This is a great exercise to do when you are sitting through meetings or calls because no one can see you doing it.

Seated Marches

Get the blood flowing in your lower body with this easy exercise. Place your feet on the ground hip distance apart. Keeping your knees bent, raise one leg six inches or so off the floor. Place it down and repeat with the other leg. Try to pick up the pace and get into a rhythm so that you are “marching” in place. Keep it going for one minute and then rest.

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Leg Extensions

Place your feet on the ground hip distance apart with your knees bent. Straighten one leg and raise it as high as you can. If you can’t get the leg completely straight, don’t worry about it! Return the first leg to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Do 10 reps on each leg, for a total of 20 reps.

Calf Raises

Once again, place your feet on the ground hip distance apart. Squeeze your calf muscles and arch your feet so that your knees raise up. Lower your feet to the starting position. If it’s too difficult to do both feet at once, then alternate legs. Do a total of 20 reps on each side. This is another discreet exercise to do when you are sitting for long periods of time to help get your blood flowing again.

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