Senior Health

Exercise. Maybe this word invigorates you, conjuring up images of brisk walks through the countryside. Or maybe it fills you with dread, making you think of sweaty aerobics classes. But what if you’re stuck inside? If you’re cooped up at home, you can’t do either of those types of exercise, and what if you don’t have exercise equipment at home? Fortunately, indoor home-based exercise doesn’t require a fancy home gym or exercise bike. There are many exercises you can do in your home with one handy piece of equipment: a chair. Here are a few chair exercises to try at home.

Get Ready

If you haven’t been active lately, you might want to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise routine. Once you’re ready, find some loose, comfortable clothes to wear, ones that let you move freely. Keep some water handy while you exercise.

Work Up to It

You may have to work up to some of these exercises, especially if you haven’t done much exercise recently. Try to do these exercises two times a week. According to the Centers for Disease Control (the CDC), people over 65 need to get at least 150 minutes a week of exercise. They recommend activities that strengthen muscles two days a week. Chair exercises are muscle-strengthening activities.

Choose the Right Chair

These exercises require a solid, stable chair without wheels. Check the height of the chair, too. You should be able to sit in the chair with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent at right angles. Choose a chair without arms and make sure no other furniture is around you, so you can move your arms and legs freely.

Start with Some Stretches

Start this exercise by sitting upright and away from the back of the chair. Then stretch your chest by extending both arms out to the sides. Slowly push your chest up and forwards until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for five to ten seconds. This stretch is great for improving posture.

Stretch your ankles next. This exercise is good for reducing the risk of blood clots. Sit upright, with your back touching the back of the chair. Hold onto the sides of the chair seat and straighten one leg, lifting your foot off the floor. Point your toes away from you and then back towards you. Repeat with the other leg, working up to two sets of five stretches on each side.

Try a Twist

This upper body twist helps upper back flexibility. Sitting upright with feet on the floor, and your back away from the back of the chair, cross your arms over your chest, with each hand on the opposite shoulder. Keeping your hips still and in place, turn your upper body as far to one side as is comfortable. Hold for five seconds and then turn to the other side, holding the stretch on that side for five seconds. Do five repetitions.

Lift Your Legs

This exercise works and strengthens hips and thighs. First, sit upright towards the middle of the chair, keeping your back from touching the back of the chair. Hold onto the sides of the chair seat. Keeping your knee bent, lift one leg as far up as is comfortable. Place your foot back down. Repeat with the other leg. Do five lifts with each leg.

March in Place

Sitting up straight towards the middle of the chair, lift each leg about two inches off the floor, alternately, like you’re marching. Swing your arms backwards and forwards at a comfortable pace while you march.

Work Your Arms

This exercise improves circulation and balance and works the muscles around the chest, back, and shoulders. While sitting upright with feet on the floor, reach both hands out in front of you and clasp them together. Then pull both hands down and over to one hip and then back out in front. Repeat to the other side, as if you were rowing a canoe.