During the coronavirus pandemic, looking after our health is more important than ever. That includes regular exercise. According to the NHS, older adults should do some type of physical activity every day. However, as we get older, lots of us find that our mobility isn't what it used to be. We might experience joint issues like arthritis or problems with balance. If this is the case for you, it would be easy to give up on exercise altogether, but thankfully there is a solution. Chair exercises for elderly people are a great way to stay active and maintain good health.
Seated exercises like the ones we're going to look at today can help you build your fitness without putting unnecessary strain on joints. For more exercise ideas, read our Top 7 Sport and Fitness Activities for Older People.
Why do Chair Exercises?
The beauty of chair exercises is that they're very accessible. You don't need to be super-fit already. You don't need any specialist equipment. All you need is a seat! You can increase the difficulty based on your ability, adding weights if you're looking for an extra challenge. Alternatively, you can simply come as you are and get moving from the comfort and safety of your home. Chair exercises are great for older people, those with mobility or balance issues, and anyone recovering from an injury or surgery.
Top 5 Chair Exercises for Elderly People
Next, we're going to take you through five great chair exercises for elderly people and those with limited mobility. Before you start, it's important to sit in the right position. Choose a sturdy chair without armrests, such as a dining chair. Sit upright, straightening your spine as much as you can. Your back shouldn't be resting on the back of the chair, so you may need to shuffle forward a little. Sit with your feet flat on the floor. If you like, hold onto the sides of the seat. Now you're ready to go.
Perform each exercise at a steady pace and don't rush - you're aiming for control, not speed.
1. Knee Lifts
This chair exercise is good for strengthening your hips. To start, sit upright and hold onto the sides of the chair. Then, with knees bent, lift one leg as high as is comfortable. Lower it back down gently and with control. Repeat with the opposite leg. To begin with, do 5 lifts with each leg, then increase over time.
2. Seated Row
Shuffle forward to sit on the edge of your seat, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out in front of you with your elbows slightly bent and thumbs facing up. Then draw your elbows back slowly while squeezing your shoulder blades together, until your elbows are in line with your ribs. Repeat for 10 rows. This is one of the best chair exercises for elderly people because it strengthens the chest, shoulders, and back without placing strain on your joints.
Hold your arms out with your elbows bent ninety degrees and your forearms out in front of you. Alternatively, cross your arms over your chest and place each hand on the opposite shoulder. Keep your lower body still and slowly twist your upper body to one side as far as you can comfortably go. It's important to engage your core while you do this - concentrate on pulling your belly button towards your spine. Then slowly return to the centre and repeat on the other side. Chair exercises like this one will help you build core strength and improve your posture.
4. Knee Extensions
This chair exercise will strengthen several different leg muscles. Start by sitting up straight with feet flat on the floor and hold onto the sides of the chair, as in the Knee Lifts exercise. Then straighten one leg with your toes pointing upwards. Do not lock your knee - keep it slightly bent. Then lower the leg back down and repeat on the other side. As before, do 5 lifts with each leg.
5. Overhead Press
Start in the same seated position as before. Bend your elbows and bring your hands up to your shoulders with palms facing forward. Slowly raise your arms over your head and hold this position for a moment. Then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 raises. If you like, you could add a small weight to each hand. There's no need to buy special exercise weights - a tin of soup or bottle of water in each hand will work fine.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you're a beginner when it comes to exercise - or you've been out of practice for a while - it's important to start slowly. That goes double if you're recovering from an injury or surgery, or if you have a condition like arthritis. You'll be able to build up your strength and fitness over time. Making progress with your fitness is one of the most satisfying things you can do - and it doesn't need to cost you a penny! These chair exercises for elderly people don't require any special equipment, just a bit of motivation and patience. We hope you enjoy giving them a try. If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Chair Yoga: 7 Seated Yoga Poses for Older People.
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