Getting regular exercise is vital to ensure we stay healthy and active for as long as possible. But for older people with particular health conditions or mobility issues, keeping active can often be difficult. However, for those finding it tough to exercise due to illness or fragility, chair exercises are a great way to keep fit. This style of exercise involves carrying out light workouts with your arms and legs while seated on an armless, stationary chair with a back. Once seated, seniors can use the chair as support, enabling them to feel safer while exercising. As part of our Senior Exercise Series, we’ve put together a guide to chair exercises for seniors, answering important questions and providing easy-to-follow instructions on how to carry out some of these simple exercises:


What are the Benefits of Chair Exercises?

Doing chair exercises can be hugely beneficial to older people for several reasons. Firstly, they significantly reduce the risk of falls; if you’re sat down, you are far less likely to lose your balance and take a tumble than if you were stood up. Secondly, while they are just as effective as standing exercises, chair exercises tend to put less strain on joints and muscles in the lower body, meaning you can exercise for longer without experiencing discomfort. Finally, for seniors who are wheelchair-reliant, chair exercises are a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy while remaining comfortably seated.


What Types of Chair are Good for Chair Exercises?

One of the most important aims of chair exercises is to prevent accidents or injury from occurring. Consequently, you must not use any of the following styles of chair while carrying out these exercises:


  • Wheeled Chairs
  • Foldaway Chairs
  • Backless Chairs
  • Feeble Chairs
  • Chairs with Arms
  • Chairs with Extendable Features
  • Stools


Make sure you use a stable chair that has a back to ensure you are as grounded as possible. Additionally, when trying out these exercises for the first time, take it slow and make sure someone is with you who can provide extra support if needed.


Popular Chair Exercises

To get you started, here are four popular chair exercises for you to try that will work several different parts of your body:


Shoulder Rolls

What better place to begin than the top of your body? To perform shoulder rolls, sit up straight in the chair and gently lift your shoulders up to your ears as far as you can. Then rotate them backwards slowly in a circular motion, bringing them down and then up again at the front to complete a full roll. Repeat this exercise 10 times, then switch the direction of your shoulder rolls, rotating them forwards for another ten rolls. Performing this exercise will work your shoulder muscles and help you gain strength for lifting.



Abdominal Lifts

To do abdominal lifts, sit slightly forward and upright on your chair. Then slightly arch your back and roll backwards slowly, keeping your spine curved. Once you are almost touching the back of your chair, start to pull yourself forwards again, straightening out your back as you do so until you have reached your starting position. Do this five to 10 times depending on how comfortable you feel and if you need to rest halfway through, use the back of the chair for support. This exercise will help to strengthen your core stomach muscles and tighten your waistline.



Knee Lift Extensions

To perform knee lift extensions, sit up straight against the back of the chair. Then gently lift your left knee upwards as far as is comfortable. Once you have reached this point, stretch out the lower part of your leg until it forms a straight line. Then retract your lower leg back in, bending your knee downwards and placing your foot back on the floor in the position you started. Then switch to your right leg and repeat the process, lifting your right knee upwards, stretching out your leg and then placing it back down lightly once you have reached your limit. Do this on each knee five to 10 times to work your quadriceps, the muscles in the top of your legs.



Toe Taps

To do toe taps, sit with your heels flat on the floor. Gently lift your feet upwards and then place them back on the ground. If you are comfortable with this level, repeat this motion five to 10 times. However, if you want to push yourself a little further, sit on the edge of the chair and stretch out your legs and repeat the same process. Whichever way you do them, toe taps will help to strengthen lower leg muscles in both the front and the back of your legs.




Each of these simple chair exercises can be carried out at home between two-three times a week and will help you build up strength while keeping you fit and healthy. For more information on health and fitness, keep up with our Senior Exercise Series on our health page and get in touch on our social media channels to tell us about your favourite chair exercises!