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4 Benefits of Chair Exercises

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 17, 2021

Physical exercise is as important to older people as it is to the younger population. It’s vital to maintain a certain level of fitness as you progress in age. However, as you get older, you may not move a lot without putting strain on your body. Chair exercises come in handy when you have limited mobility or find it hard to maintain your balance.

When you do chair exercises daily, you reduce the risk of falls. The movements increase blood flow and keep your joints active and lubricated. They also strengthen your muscles.

Improve Your Posture

You may spend much of your time sitting as you age. This can lead to a change in your posture. Your body needs to maintain good posture despite your age. When you sit, the pelvis tilts backward, and your bottom tilts under. Your hips may not support the half top of your frame. Sitting also fails to exercise your glutes and core, which support your spine.

When this happens, the spine shifts into a long C-curve instead of maintaining its natural S shape. This slump eventually affects your ability to maintain a straight posture when standing up. Chair exercises can help prevent the situation from deteriorating.

Belly Exercise

Sit upright and tighten your belly as though you're bringing the belly button toward the spine. Hold your neck in a straight position, and then tuck in your chin. To achieve this posture, imagine yourself having a string pulling upward from the top of your head.

Next, breathe deeply from the belly. Your breath should be deep enough to expand the stomach and chest. Hold the position. Gradually build it up as a foundation for other exercises.

Strengthen Your Shoulders

Decreased movement of the limbs causes the muscles to waste away. You can maintain the muscles if you keep exercising them.

Shoulder rolls:

Done from a sitting position, this exercise strengthens the shoulders. As you sit in your chair, shrug your shoulders up toward the ears. Slowly rotate them to the front, down, back, and up again.

Change the direction, rotating to the back. Repeat ten times to give your shoulders some much-needed boost.

Lubricate Knee Joints

Chair exercises are suitable for both the upper and the lower body. Some lower-body activities also provide benefits for the upper and mid-body. Knee exercises help strengthen the joints, and they help relieve arthritis pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Knee Lifts:

Slowly lift the right knee toward the chest, then return it to the starting position. Do the same for the left knee. Repeat the exercise 10 times or as many times as your body can endure. The exercise will help strengthen stomach muscles and those that flex the hips, as well as your quads. All these muscles play a crucial role while you sit and stand.

Knee Extensions:

Sit on the edge of a chair. Bend your knees and hold onto the armrest or the edges of the chair for support. Lift and extend the right calf in a line from the chair-seat. Ensure the toes point to the ceiling. The knee should bend slightly, but not lock.

Position yourself on the chair's edge, in the starting position, and relax. This time, extend the left calf as you did the right. Continue alternating the knees to the count of 10.

Increase Your Upper Body Flexibility

As you age, you tend to lose your flexibility and balance. Chair exercises provide benefits to the upper and lower body. They provide flexibility for the upper body.

Seated row exercise:

Move to the edge of your chair and stretch your arms in front of you. Slightly bend your elbows toward your center-line, with the thumbs pointing upward at the ceiling. Pull your elbows back as far as you possibly can while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Repeat 10 times for a complete workout for your chest muscles and upper back.

Other benefits of chair exercises are:

  • A lower risk of some health conditions like stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes
  • Better bone health
  • Improved quality of life
  • Lower risk of dementia
  • Reduced risk of depression

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Aging: “Changes in posture and balance with age.”

American Journal of Physiology: “Mechanisms of Exercise as a preventative measure to muscle wasting.”

American Physiological Society: “Regulation of Increased Blood Flow (Hyperemia) to Muscles During Exercise: A Hierarchy of Competing Physiological Needs.”

BioMed Research International: “The Importance of Physical Activity Exercise Among Older People.”

Journal of Aging Research: Flexibility Training and Functional Ability in Older Adults: A Systematic Review.”

Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy: “Anterior Knee Pain: What Muscles Should I Strengthen?”

The Scientific World Journal: “The Spinal Curvature of Three Different Sitting Positions Analyzed in an Open MRI Scanner.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”

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