Best Chair Exercises For The Elderly

senior people exercise with physiotherapist chair exercise

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As we get older, we tend to start using our age as an excuse for why we’ve stopped exercising.

That’s a huge mistake.

The fact is, exercise offers amazing benefits – both physical as well as mental – even more so as we get older because regular exercise helps us stay in shape and allows us to live productive and vibrant lives well into our golden years.

To that end, we’ve made this handy guide for you. In it, you’ll learn how to exercise productively with nothing more than a chair and a couple of pieces of fitness equipment.

You Don’t Need a Gym to Be Healthy and Fit

Prevailing wisdom suggests that we need access to a fully-stocked gym to have an effective workout and stay fit. But that’s not true. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and all you need to get (and stay) fit is a chair.

Indeed, seated training might not seem all that effective. Still, it offers many of the same benefits as you would reap in a typical gym, as it helps improve your cardiovascular health, strength, muscle tone, flexibility, and sense of well-being.

Plus, chair-based training is versatile, convenient, and easy to do. To that end, we’ve compiled an extensive list of some of the best chair exercises you can utilize to be more active.

The Five Best Chair Exercises For The Elderly

Like with any exercise, it’s essential to start with a warm-up. This will help prepare your body and mind for the work that’s yet to come. Something as simple as walking can be enough to get your heart rate up and blood pumping.

After that, pick several of the below exercises and have yourself a great workout:

Seated Rows

Seated chair rows are one of the best activities you can do to develop your upper back, biceps, and grip strength. 

1. Sit at the edge of the chair and lean forward a bit while keeping your neck in line with your torso, and your arms extended to your sides with palms facing your thighs. 

2. Row up by bending your elbows and keeping them close to your chest. Go as high as you can and then slowly extend your arms to the starting position.

I recommend starting with light dumbbells or wrist weights to get a good feel for the movement before trying to lift heavier weights.

Seated Lateral Raises

Seated lateral raises are one of the best exercises you can perform to isolate your shoulder and strengthen them. What’s more, the training is incredibly safe, and, as you’ll see in a second, it’s quite straightforward to do.

1. Sit comfortably on a chair, straighten your back, push your chest out, and extend your arms to your sides.

2. From that position, slowly begin raising both arms to the sides while keeping your elbows almost entirely straight. 

3. Once both arms become parallel to the floor, hold the contraction for a moment, then lower them to the starting position.

As with the first exercise, begin incredibly light to learn the movement pattern.

Seated Overhead Press/Raise Of The Arms

The overhead press is another excellent shoulder-strengthening exercise that works great in combination with lateral raises. 

1. Sit comfortably, much like you would for the lateral raise. With a light dumbbell (or wrist weight) in each hand and palms facing your thighs, bend your elbows at 90-degrees, and raise your arms to your sides, with your elbows flaring out.

2. From there, engage your shoulders to extend your arms straight to both sides of your head. Then, lower the weights to your sides. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Seated Bicep Curls

Curls are among the best exercises to build up your grip strength, forearms, and biceps. Plus, bicep curls are highly versatile, and you can do them with as little as an armless chair and a light resistance band.

1. Sit on the chair, straighten your back, place the middle of the band underneath your feet (and step on it), and grab both handles.

2. With your arms extended to your sides and palms facing forward, bend both elbows simultaneously and curl up slightly past a 90-degree angle of your elbows. 

3. Hold the top position for a moment and slowly release the tension as you straighten your arms to the starting position.

Remember to keep your elbows steady throughout the movement.

Knee Lifts

Knee lifts are a fantastic core-strengthening exercise that doesn’t require any equipment. Plus, they are beginner-friendly and take little time and effort to learn.

1. Sit near the edge of a chair with your chest up, feet flat on the floor, and palms firmly planted to your sides for balance.

2. Slowly raise your right knee in and toward your chest. 

3. Hold for a moment and then lower it back to starting position.

4. Repeat for your other leg.

5. Keep alternating between both legs.

Final Thoughts

I know what you’re probably thinking right now:

“Are these exercises dangerous, and am I running the risk of getting injured from doing them?”

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is this:

So long as you make sure to perform each exercise with proper technique, you will not only stay healthy and injury-free, but you will also strengthen your entire body and drastically improve your capacity to move.

What’s more, the above five exercises make for an excellent upper-body workout, they are beginner-friendly, and the potential for overload is excellent. Meaning, it takes little time and effort to get started, and you can use these exercises to keep progressing for months, even years.

If you wish, you can begin with these exercises and several others. But, I recommend starting more conservatively, learning proper technique, and using light weights. Once you feel more confident in your ability to exercise safely and effectively, you can introduce more exercises.


Hi, I'm Sam, and I love archery! I used to work as a caregiver, and I'm in medical school now. I started this blog to help people like my parents get healthier in fun and exciting ways, more than just going to the gym. If you like one of my articles, I'd appreciate it if you share it with your folks and help them get healthier too!

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