Best Chair Exercises for Seniors

Chair Exercise for senior


Chair exercises are a growing trend with seniors. Most of them have problems with standing activities and tend to sit down a lot. Among these are factors of the high risk of falls, frailty, and fear of injury.

If ignored, declining physical health contributes to temporal patterns of sitting and non-sitting activities. Sitting exercises are an alternative for older people active with limited mobility.

Physical activity & exercise benefits us to be healthier. And by investing in it, it will help us have a better quality of life. No matter what your age is, doing it on a daily basis, improves our physical, mental, and emotional health.

But as we age, physical inactivity has increased the risk of chronic disease, and older people often have many chronic conditions. This leads to an increased mortality rate and permanent physical activities. Therefore, here are the benefits for you to know if you are considering doing chair exercises.

Benefits of Chair Exercises in Seniors

Improved Balance

One out of 5 fall-incidents causes serious injuries like fractures and concussions. Also, every 11 seconds, there are fall-related admissions in the emergency room.

Unfortunately, every 19 minutes, an old person dies due to complications that arise from falls. This is according to the National Council on Aging.

The important muscles are the core and abdominal muscles, and upper leg muscles like quads, and hamstrings. Strengthening these muscles will help a person’s posture.

As well as control whenever standing up. Improvement of strength can help prevent falls, and lessen the need for aid on activities.

Reduce Joint Stiffness

Research has linked joint pain to an increased risk for falls. The more joints arthritis affects, the greater the odds you’ll take a tumble. In a 2015 Arthritis Care & Research study, people with pain in one lower joint – their knee or hip – were 53 percent more likely to fall.

Complaints of morning stiffness and pain are the primary symptoms of arthritis. This contributes to falling from the inability to walk, and stay in a standing position.

Mobility exercises are good for the joints. Because it helps the flow of synovial fluid. Where it helps produce a fluid and acts like oil in an engine. This allows your bones to move past one another more smoothly. By that, nutrients can flow and repair can happen to the affected joints.

Increase Mobility and Flexibility

Older adults who exercised 3-4 times per week saw an 18% increase in mobility. This can help in walking easier, without complaints of pain.

Because by increasing the range of motion of your joints, going back to your daily routine will be possible. Elderly people will have an assurance that they can do their usual activities without hesitation.

Preparation and Equipment

As mentioned above, older adults need to do exercises 3-4 times a week. Which consists of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. If a person cannot do it because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

Prepare a sturdy chair with back support, where you can lean back without slouching. Use a seat with arm support if the person has poor postural control.

If you are doing the exercises for the first time, you can use no equipment. If you need the challenge to do these exercises, a dumbbell, exercise bands, weight, or wrist weights can be used.

Frequencies and Precautions

If the elderly are frail with limited mobility, assistance from another individual is advised. With the help of a family member or caregiver, the exercises can be done in a slow-paced manner. As well as to where the patient is capable of doing. Rest breaks are also necessary once shortness of breath occurs.

An old person should be doing these exercises with supervision, and observe for unusual signs and symptoms that might arise.

Make sure you are not feeling the following conditions: dizziness, headache, chest pain, or pain on every part of your body without any relieving positions. Call emergency services if any of these things occur.

Appropriate Exercises for Seniors for:


Arm Raises

While sitting straight, your starting position will be your arms on the side. Just make sure you are doing it slowly, and within how much you can reach forward, or on the side.

senior couple doing exercise

Raise your arms up until you reach your ears. And if you are doing sideways, make sure your arms are aligned with your shoulders. You can do this with 10 repetitions.

Seated Row

This is another exercise that involves the upper arm & shoulder blades. With a fixed position on the chair, raise your arms forward until it’s aligned with your shoulder.

Then, pull your hands to your chest with a closed fist. You will be able to feel a slight squeeze on your back, which means you are doing the movement properly.

Another variation is placing your arms beside your trunk. Fold your elbow in 90 degrees, and pull back until you feel a small squeeze on your back. This is more specific with the rhomboids. Again, you can do it with 10 repetitions. And if the elderly need a little challenge, a dumbbell is advised.

Upper Body Twist (Tummy Twist)

While sitting upright, place your hands to your shoulders crossed. After that, turn your trunk on one side in a slow-paced manner. Holding that pose for about 5 seconds, before proceeding to the other side.

You can do it about 5 times for a full cycle. This promotes trunk mobility and can help with changing directions when walking.

Hip Marching (Knee Lifts)

Proceeding to the legs and thigh, this involves the hip and knee flexors/extensors that are important for getting up on the chair. With your knees bent, lift the knees to a possible position near your chest.

Whether that’s a comfortable position or not, only do it to where it can reach. Repeat it with the opposite leg, about 5-10 times.

Knee Extension

Sit upright with your thighs supported on the chair, and your feet on the ground. And slowly straighten one of your knees. Be mindful with your trunk slowly curving.

Maintain a posture without leaning back to the chair, and do it to the other leg 5-10 times. This will strengthen your thigh muscles (quads) to stand up straight.


Neck Stretch

Remaining in your seating position, place one of your hands to the opposite shoulder. Then, move your head towards the other shoulder until you feel a comfortable stretch.

Neck Stretch for senior

Hold it for about 5 seconds, before doing it to the other side. The neck stretch focuses on the tightness of our neck, shoulder, and shoulder blades.

Side Trunk Stretch

To do this exercise, raise one of your arms up until your ear. Then the other arm holds onto the chair for support. Slowly lean sidewards until you feel a stretch on your trunk.

Hold it for about 5 seconds, and proceed to the other side. This promotes flexibility and increased range of motion on your tummy twist.

Straight Leg with Ankle Stretch

Overactivation of the hip flexor muscles and ankle dorsiflexors are evident. Thus, they tighten and aggravate pain in the areas of the back. Straighten your knee, and then point your ankle to you.

The stretch will feel uneasy especially on the calf muscles, and hamstrings. This is due to the stretch. Hold it for about 5 seconds, and do it 3 times on each leg.


Senior doing squats

Seated Pelvic Tilts

The pelvic tilt is an exercise preparation for core and abdominal muscles. Doing it right will help you strengthen these muscles. Sit upright on the chair with your posture straight, and squeeze your stomach in.

A trembling stomach is a normal response, meaning activation is happening. Hold it for about 2-3 seconds. And do it 5-10 times.

This might be simple, but one mistake people do is to hold their breath. Whenever doing this exercise, breathe in, and do it while breathing out.

That way, you can also prevent the onset of fatigue. Lastly, you can count for how many seconds you hold the position, to continue breathing. After that, rest for about 3 breaths before doing it again.

Chair Lifts

Chair lifts are good exercises if an old person needs to learn to do transfers from chair and toilet alone. This can also strengthen muscles of the upper arms, and buttocks.

Hold the arm support of a chair and slowly lift your buttocks. Hold it for 2-3 seconds, and do it 2-3 times. This exercise can also offload your weight when sitting for a long period of time.

Mini Squats

This exercise starts with a standing position. Fold your knees up until you don’t see your toes on the floor. This is a perfect position to learn about sitting from a standing position.

Hold the position for about 2-3 seconds, and do it 5 times. A family member or a caregiver can supervise and provide contact if needed.

Consulting With Your Doctor

Consulting with a physician is still important. This is to check whether the exercises are safe for their condition.

Prescribed exercises are to be in a proper manner, and within the limits of the old person. It is necessary to take note of the precautions, and contradictions. This is to make sure no injuries/complications leading to hospitalization will happen.


About Estephanie Jill

Estephanie Jill (EJBP, BSPT, PTRP) is a licensed physiotherapist. She is a home health care provider, laboratory technician for physical therapy students, medical transcriptionist, and an advocate of the physiotherapy profession. Apart from that, she loves writing. Playing to her strengths, she mainly writes around health and fitness, She has been commended for her writing in the past. Her other passions include commenting on societal changes and writing life reflective pieces. She enjoys meaningful conversations, and detaching from the digital world to do yoga and meditation. She is a self-confessed foodie who enjoys eating for the experience and then burning it all off through exercise.