seated exercises for seniors

5 Seated Chair Exercises for Seniors that Improve Core Strength

Core strengthening is an essential and sometimes overlooked part of a comprehensive exercise program. Its impact also extends far beyond the often discussed 6-pack abs, especially for seniors. If you are looking to integrate core strength as part of your senior exercise routine, seated exercises are a great way to start! The following offers some easy-to-learn tips to prepare for this fitness practice, options for seated core exercises, and the importance of core strength for seniors.

Preparing for Practice: Seated Chair Exercise Tips for Seniors

According to Harvard Health, developing and sustaining an exercise program begins with thinking realistically about what will work for you and what you hope to achieve. For example, while you may have once competed in a sit-up challenge with a friend or done a specific number of crunches each day, that same exercise or target number may not be the right fit for you now. As such, seated exercises for seniors help you reinvest in your core strength and do so in a way that works for your current level of strength and any accessibility considerations. Here are some tips to help you establish your routine:

  • Talk to your doctor. It’s always a good idea to check with your physician prior to starting any exercise plan, but it’s especially important if you are working with existing injuries or other health conditions. Your medical professional may also be able to provide additional recommendations about the best exercises for your unique body and overall well-being.
  • Take your time. Twice or three times a week is the typical recommendation for core strengthening. However, the key to sustaining a routine and doing it safely is listening to your body. Instead of trying to do a 20-minute practice to start, consider setting aside just 5 minutes on two days during your first week to try a few seated exercises. As your confidence and strength grow, consider adding an additional day, more time or different exercises.
  • Use the chair. Chair exercises for seniors help make this strength work accessible for more bodies, as discussed by MedicalNewsToday, and provide additional support for fall prevention. In addition to sitting in a chair while you do the exercises, holding the sides of the chair can provide additional support during these moves.
  • Find a fitness friend. Making exercise into a social occasion can be a helpful strategy. For example, you and your neighbor at the assisted living community might check out the community calendar to choose two group classes to attend or to set a plan for where to do the morning chair exercise video or other fitness program.

5 Seated Chair Exercises that Strengthen Your Core (and More!)

Seated exercises target core development in addition to strengthening other muscles and enhancing flexibility. Here are 5 seated chair exercises for seniors that you might try!

  1. Sit up and squeeze: According to MedlinePlus, good posture contributes in multiple ways to one’s overall health. Good posture includes abdominal engagement and is part of proper exercise form, as with seated exercises for seniors. Build core strength by mindfully practicing good posture or combine this posture work with intentional tightening and releasing of the abdominal muscles.
  2. Side bends: Establish good posture. Then, engage the oblique muscles to bend to one side and then the other. Need a little more support? Try using the edges of the chair. For some additional stretch, you might lift the alternate arm up over your head and extend it. So, if you are bending to the left, lengthen the right arm up out of the right side waist and reach the right fingertips overhead and to the left.
  3. Twist: Breathe in to sit up straight in the chair with hands gently on the lap, then breathe out as you use the abdominal muscles to twist to one side (hands may move slightly as you do so). Breathe in to come back to the center, and then breathe out and to the opposite side. Exercises like the seated bicycle twist (which incorporates the exercise below) or twist and chop, as well as the addition of weights can provide a further challenge to this move.
  4. Knee lifts: This seated exercise can be done in a more fluid or static fashion. Choose the one that feels better in your body, and know that you’ll enjoy similar strengthening benefits. For more continuous movement, you’ll essentially march in place while in the chair, lifting one knee, then the other, and repeating this movement until you’ve evenly moved both legs or concluded your set amount of time. In the slower version, the lifted knee may be held for a few seconds and then lowered, before proceeding with the other knee and then alternating accordingly, perhaps with a pause between legs.
  5. Leg lifts: In this leg and core strengthening move, one knee stays bent, while the other one is lengthened. Keep your posture intact and core muscles engaged to lift the lengthened leg any amount up to hip height. Complete a set on one leg and then switch or alternate legs if you choose.

Benefits of Seated Chair Exercises for Seniors

According to the Mayo Clinic, core strengthening helps improve balance and stability. Engaging in regular seated chair exercises or other abdominal practices may also help reduce the risk of falling, mitigate back pain, and generally make mobility and daily tasks a little easier. Like engaging in senior hobbies, enjoying a regular exercise routine helps keep the brain healthy and lessen the risk of depression in seniors.

In the continuing care retirement community, Arbors of Hop Brook, wellness programming is one of our top priorities. Seated chair exercise opportunities and other physical fitness activities are a key part of taking a comprehensive approach to wellness. For more about our wellness philosophy, see our newsletter for a sample of current events, check out our community calendar for daily activities or just come visit us to learn more about what our assisted living community has to offer. Contact us today to schedule a tour!