Seated Exercises for Older Adults

Seated Exercises for Older Adults

Irrespective of what age we are, exercising is very much important. Many people are above the age of 65 and for them exercising is a part and parcel of their daily life. Hence, whether we enjoy it or not, exercising on a regular basis makes our body moving and function in a proper manner as per our age. By not getting up and entertaining our muscles with regular movement, we are healthily lowering the chances of ageing.

Loving Exercising

Sometimes you might see or hear seniors loving exercising or hating one, even though most people are told that exercising is great for your body. Certain individuals might experience some mental block. In their younger days, most people would have been able to run ten to twelve miles each day or be able to compete in a triathlon but now it would be harder for them even to stand.

If a senior is having trouble moving around on their own and feel it is difficult to even do a small amount of exercising, they don’t need to worry. There are still ways to exercise without moving from their chair.

Chair Exercise to The Rescue

Unlike other exercises, chair exercises are the best substitutes for ageing adults. Keep in mind that they don’t have to be a weight set. Most importantly, seniors or a trainer won’t even need or consult a caregiver all the time. Here the only thing they really need is a chair. Of course, some exercises will need dumbbells and resistance bands for performing in an accurate manner and getting the required results.

Benefits of Doing Chair Exercises

Regular exercising (which is about 30 minutes each day) will not only keep the adult heart healthy but will prevent all kinds of strokes, heart attack, high blood pressure, chronic diseases like dementia. Keep in mind that not everyone who is above the age of 65 can move in an agile manner or even get out of their seat. However, this does not mean that they won’t be able to exercise. Do you know that there are plenty of regular exercises one can do even using their chair? Chair exercises for seniors must be done at the appropriate time, in similar repetitions, and properly outlined sets.

Most importantly, the benefits can be easily reached as and when the senior uses the regular chair. Basically, they won’t have to go out and get something that is brand new so that they can start moving around. An ordinary chair will simply do the trick. The chair that they are going to use must be stable with four legs, there should not be any rollers and for most exercises, there must not be any arms too.

In this article, you will come across a various list of exercises, that senior citizens can do right at the comfort of their home using equipment which they can use by themselves.

Consulting a Doctor Before Exercising

Now before you start doing any of these exercises, you might have to consult a doctor even if your loved one is doing it. You need to consult with the doctor if –

  • If recently they had surgery.
  • Have met with a recent injury which can get agitated through using some muscle or set of muscles.
  • If they can’t physically do the perfect posture while exercising (even the small difference in doing the correct form of such exercise will lead to pain as well as injury).

Exercises to Do Using Chair

Here the list provided is not something that is one-size-fits-all if the elderly individual is suffering from injuries. In such a case, it could impede them from doing an exercise properly and in an efficient manner. You should not assume that your loved one can do the exercise instantly or progressively feeling a major pain.

If this happens, they need to return to a comfortable position and simply stop exercising entirely. Sometimes you might be the caretakers of the senior citizen and you might not know if you are legally permitted to do the following exercises with your loved ones, then you need to give more importance to safety.

The Shoulder

Now we are using our shoulder for various purposes. Our shoulder carries a huge amount of load. For some of us, we sleep on our shoulder, some even fall and lean on them, and few people are doing various regular movements each day using the shoulder.

Here training our shoulders has a huge benefit to our capabilities while using our arms. If a senior is not able to use the full or even a small amount to their basic range of motion of the shoulders, then they might experience lack of strength, sometimes even pain in other parts of the body for picking the slack or reducing the day-to-day functions of the body activities.

1) Seated Shoulder Press

A seated shoulder press exercise will help the senior to extend their arms overhead, thereby increasing their mobility, strength, and endurance. 

Steps Involved

  • Select a pair of low weight dumbbells. You can even slide the resistance band right under the seat or sit on it. Make sure that it is at the equal length of each side of the body. 
  • Make sure to sit in a comfortable manner on the chair with your hips as far back as possible. You even need to make sure that the back is firm to the backrest of the chair. 
  • Keep the core (which is the lumbar and abs) tight.
  • Next, begin with both the elbows spread right to the sides of the body. Just get them aligned both under the shoulder. Stick the chest out. 
  • After that face the body in the straight manner, along with the palms to forward and correctly grip the dumbbells. 
  • Make the arms up and try to ensure that it reaches right above the head, where it is fully extended (or you must get a range that is a bit comfortable). Just make sure that you don’t touch the hands together and both arms must be parallel to each other. 
  • Once the arm’s extension limit is reached, then slowly bring the hands down to the starting position, along with keeping the elbows spread. Just make sure that the elbows are not tucked into the middle of the body and get them to extend out until the top of the back gets a pinching sensation right at the shoulder blades. 

2) Seated Front Shoulder Raises

Now, this exercise is useful for holding objects right in front of the body or even simply extending the arm in a forward manner. The steps involved in this exercise are – 

  • Take a pair of dumbbells, medicine balls or resistance bands. 
  • Place yourself in a comfortable manner on the chair, making sure your hips are as far back as possible. You need to ensure that the back is placed firmly to the backrest of the chair. 
  • Keep the core (which are the lumbar and abs) in a tight manner. Then stick the chest out. 
  • Using the dumbbells, you need to ensure that your arms are placed right to the sides of the body. Allow them to hang in a natural way where both the palms are facing right towards the body. 
  • Using a resistance band, ensure that the slide band is placed under the seat or just sit on it, till they are on equal length right on both sides of the body. After that make sure that both the arms are placed to the sides of the body and allow them to hand in a natural manner with their palms facing right to the body. 
  • Using the medicine ball, just place the ball to the edge of the lap. Then keep the hands-on either of the side while you are gripping the ball. 
  • Place the arms in a straight way and the palms to the facing position. Continue to move the arm right in front of the body. 
  • Just stop the motion when the arms are placed to the parallel of the floor and the hands must be in the direct vision of the eyes. 
  • Then proceed to move slowly and return to the starting position. 


3) Seated Chest Press

This is the exercises that not only use the chest muscles but even the triceps as well as the shoulder. This is even called as a compound movement as there are various muscles used right at once. Here this exercise is good for various reasons, one being that your loved one won’t have to do various other kinds of exercises just to get the same kind of result. The steps to be followed for this exercise –

  • Take a resistance band.
  • Place the resistance band right at the point where your chair is, and it must be directly behind the back just where the shoulder blades are. Make sure that the resistance band won’t be able to move on the back of the chair. Moving it while doing the exercise will lead to serious injury or it might target the wrong muscles group. For keeping it secure, just think of using some strong clip or any pin. You can even have a family member of the senior to assist in installing a couple of shelving brackets right at the back of the chair for keeping the band positioned in the correct manner.
  • Sit in a comfortable manner on the chair where the hips must be as far back as possible. Just make sure that the back is placed firmly to the backrest of the chair.
  • Keep the core (which is the lumber and abs) tight. Just stick out the chest out.
  • Place both palms down, elbows bent and parallel to the shoulder. The hands must be positioned just outside of the width of the shoulder.
  • Next push the resistance band right forward until the arms are fully extended to the front of the body (don’t touch the hands together).
  • After that slowly revert to the starting point.

Keep in mind that if the chair is not modified as per the requirement of the resistance band or there isn’t any tension, you must make sure that the band is wrapped around another stable device like a beam or post.

4) Modified Push-Ups

Here you need to follow the following steps – 

  • Stand facing the chair straight using your body.
  • Then you need to place both your hands on the side of your chair’s seat. Also, keep both the arms slightly bent at the elbows, then shift both feet backwards a couple of feet until the body is somewhat in the diagonal position right in front of the chair. 
  • Next, you need to make sure that the buttocks are not right high in the air or if the back is arched. The body should be right in the straight line of the shoulder to the heel. If the senior is feeling resistance (tension) in their core, then you need to make sure that they are in the correct position. Also, the elbows must be close to the side of the body.
  • After that slowly bend the elbows, getting the body to move closer to the chair. 
  • Now once the chin has just touched the chair (or just close to the chair as possible) simply push back right to the starting position. 

Keep in mind that the chair must be placed against the wall for getting more support. 

Is Chair Exercising Still Beneficial

One thing you need to keep in mind that senior citizens won’t have the great flexibility or movement that they had in the prime age. Hence, exercises that are done using the chair where their movements are limited in using the chair as exercising equipment will be great.

However, before doing any of these exercises or recommending them, senior citizens or their caretakers must consult doctors or physicians. They should ensure that these exercises used the required and necessary muscles in the correct manner and even there must not be any damage to their body.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.