A smiling group of seniors stretching their arms in an exercise class.

10 Chair Exercises for Seniors to Stay Fit and Active

Physical activity should be one of the highest priorities of older adults trying to stay healthy.

Exercise is good for balance, mobility, bone and muscle strength, and coordination in the body (CDC), but it has mental and emotional benefits as well. Regular physical activity has the power to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, increase energy, improve sleep, and aid cognitive function (National Institute on Aging).

Unfortunately, our physical abilities often wane as we age, making exercise less possible. If you have a chronic health condition or struggle with mobility, it’s important to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. If you have been cleared for movement, chair exercises are a great way for seniors to modify physical activity to work for them.

Our goal in sharing these chair exercises is to make physical activity accessible for everyone. Adaptation is so easy with these simple, free chair exercises for seniors!

Why Are Chair Exercises Good for Seniors?

Aging comes along with many side effects that challenge our mobility and abilities. There is no shame in modifying exercise to be more comfortable for you! A 2021 study revealed that for seniors, chair exercises increased both upper and lower extremity function.

Another major benefit to this form of activity is that it’s free! Chair exercises for seniors require no extra equipment, travel, or even clothing. Convenience makes forming a habit so much easier, and chair exercises are as simple as movement gets.

Simple Chair Exercises for Seniors

1. Chair Rise

  • Sit just on the edge of your chair with bent knees shoulder-width apart and flat feet.
  • Rest your hands on the seat of your chair and inhale slowly with a straight back.
  • Exhale and slowly stand up, using your hands as little as possible.
  • Inhale and slowly sit back down.

2. Neck Stretch

  • Sit upright with good posture, looking straight ahead.
  • Hold your left shoulder with your right hand while inhaling and tilting your head to the right. Exhale, holding for 5 seconds. Inhale and return to the center.
  • Exhale. Repeat on the left side.

3. Neck Rotations

  • Sit upright, looking forward, and inhale, rolling your shoulders to your ears and back. Exhale.
  • Inhale and turn head to the left as far as is comfortable.
  • Exhale, holding for 5 seconds.
  • Inhale and return to the center.
  • Exhale. Repeat on the right side.

4. Side Bend

  • Sit upright with feet flat and hip-width apart, arms above your head.
  • Inhale and bend to the left.
  • Exhale and return to the center.
  • Repeat on the other side.

5. Leg Lifts

  • Sit upright with feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale while straightening one leg and holding it out for 5 seconds.
  • Exhale and return.
  • Repeat on the other side.

An older man stretching on a chair in a bedroom.

6. Thigh Squeeze

  • Sit upright with feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale and squeeze your thigh and buttocks muscles, holding for 10 seconds.
  • Exhale and return.

7. Upper Body Twist

  • Sit upright, looking forward, with feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale and cross your arms, reaching for your shoulders and exhale.
  • Inhale and rotate to the left without moving your hips.
  • Exhale and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Inhale and return to the center then exhale.
  • Repeat on the other side.

8. Chest Stretch

  • Sit upright in the middle of the chair.
  • Inhale and pull your shoulders back.
  • Exhale and drop your shoulders down.
  • Extend your arms to the sides.
  • Inhale deep and feel your chest expand.
  • Exhale and return.

9. Arm Raises

  • Sit upright with arms by your sides.
  • Keeping your shoulders down, inhale and raise one arm out and up as far as is comfortable.
  • Exhale and return.
  • Repeat on the other side.

10. Hip Marching

  • Sit up straight with feet flat on the floor.
  • Bend your left leg and inhale while you lift your knee towards your chest.
  • Exhale and slowly return.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Remember to only exercise in comfortable clothing, and take breaks as needed. For further instructions and visuals, see Medical News Today.

Best Chair Exercises for Seniors

The best form of physical activity is whatever kind that’s right for you. Every experience and body is unique.

If exercising with a chair is what gets you to move your body, that’s wonderful. We wanted to teach the simplest possible exercises that almost everyone can adapt to their needs. After all, movement can enrich every life.

Moving our bodies has many physical and mental benefits, and that’s why it’s an important part of our work at The Moments. Our exercise and movement classes give residents an emotional boost as well as enhance their well-being and independence. These are intrinsic values to the work that we do.

Learn more about our Memory Care services.

Published On: January 1, 2024