Chair Exercises for Seniors

Chair exercises can be an effective way for seniors to get physical activity, work out a range of muscles and maintain strength without having to leave home. There are a variety of chair exercises that can work out different parts of your body. They can also be effective exercises for those who are less mobile.

Christian Simmons, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Christian Simmons

    Christian Simmons

    Financial Writer

    Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.

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  • Edited By
    Lamia Chowdhury
    Lamia Chowdhury, editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lamia Chowdhury

    Financial Editor

    Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.

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  • Published: June 17, 2022
  • Updated: June 30, 2022
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 2 Cited Research Articles
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APA Simmons, C. (2022, June 30). Chair Exercises for Seniors. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/healthy-aging/exercise-for-seniors/chair-exercises/

MLA Simmons, Christian. "Chair Exercises for Seniors." RetireGuide.com, 30 Jun 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/healthy-aging/exercise-for-seniors/chair-exercises/.

Chicago Simmons, Christian. "Chair Exercises for Seniors." RetireGuide.com. Last modified June 30, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/healthy-aging/exercise-for-seniors/chair-exercises/.

What are Chair Exercises?

It may sound straightforward, but chair exercises are a way to work out and get physical activity while seated in a chair. This isn’t something that you have to join a gym or even leave your house; you likely have a chair in your home that can work just fine.

Chair exercises are typically less strenuous than full-blown workouts, which is in part what makes them an appealing option to older adults who may not be able to get through an intense workout.

People with mobility restrictions can also take advantage of chair exercises as a way to get some physical activity without the full-body strain that often accompanies more traditional forms of exercise, such as running or lifting weights.

Chair exercises come in a variety of different forms and don’t refer to one set type of exercise. There are plenty of different options out there to strengthen different muscle groups and to fit your specific mobility circumstances. The possibilities are virtually endless, giving you the chance to try out and find the exercises that best work for you.

What are the Benefits of Chair Exercises?

Getting exercise is critical for seniors. Regular physical activity and staying in shape can lower your risk for numerous serious diseases while also helping to keep you physically fit and mentally sharp later into life, helping to promote healthy aging.

But working out isn’t always easy for older adults. Going to a gym requires regularly leaving your home, as well as spending money. Common and simple workouts such as running can pose a safety risk for some seniors.

Chair exercises have the benefit of being low impact, allowing you to work out different parts of your body without some of the safety concerns common with other types of exercise.

Benefits of Chair Exercises
  • Less strenuous than other workouts
  • Safer for seniors than some exercises
  • Can be done at home
  • Variety of exercises available

Not having to leave your home to exercise can be a big advantage for seniors as well. For some older adults, reluctance to leave the home or exercise can be due to mobility issues that aren’t as much of an issue for chair exercises.

Being able to exercise at home can also help you to get into a routine and work out regularly, since it requires less time and effort to commit to.

Can You Take Chair Exercise Classes?

You may be able to take chair exercise classes. Depending on where you live, you should look into the SilverSneakers program, which offers both in-person fitness classes at local gyms around the country and online options as well.

Exercise classes offer a few different benefits. They can expose you to new types of workouts and help you to refine your chair exercises to ensure you are getting the most out of them and completing them properly.

In-person classes may also offer the benefit of group support, human interactions, and setting something on your calendar to help you get into a routine, since setting commitments can be harder to back out of.

Another in-home option to consider is online chair exercise videos. YouTube and other common video sites have a range of options, with many different channels and online instructors offering follow-along videos. This option is obviously free and can essentially act as a recorded virtual class available at your convenience.

What Should You Look for in an Exercise Chair?

An exercise chair does not have to be special exercise equipment, or even something that you have to go out and purchase. You can likely find a suitable exercise chair inside your home already.

When identifying a good chair to use for chair exercises, there are a few key factors to keep in mind.

  • The chair you select should be able to easily support your weight while being strong and secure. You don’t want to select a rickety or unstable chair for your workouts, since this can lead to potential safety hazards if the chair gives way or tips over and causes you to fall.
  • The chair shouldn’t be prone to sliding around. For example, an office chair with wheels probably does not make sense to use for chair exercises.
  • You’ll also want to be mindful of where you place the chair for your workouts. You want it to be on a firm surface where it won’t slide around or be unstable, and also probably don’t want to work out over a hard floor such wood or tile in case you fall. A carpeted area may make the most sense.

You should inspect chairs in your home to see if one already meets these criteria. If not, you can explore buying a chair just to use for chair exercises.

Examples of Chair Exercises

According to Oklahoma State University, you can do a number of different workouts through chair exercise. This includes the seated shoulder press, seated chest press, leg kicks, side stretch and sitting to standing.

Types of Chair Exercises
  • Shoulder Press
  • Chest Press
  • Leg Kicks
  • Sitting to Standing
  • Stretches

The seated shoulder press involves sitting down and repeatedly raising your arms above your head, possibly with small weights in your hands, to work out your shoulder and arm muscles.

A modification of this is the chest press, where you do the same thing but push your arms out and back in front of your body to work on the muscles in your chest as well.

Leg kicks are exactly what they sound like and involve sitting in a chair and extending your legs away from your body and alternating lifting one high and then the other.

The side stretch is one of many different stretching exercises you can do in a chair and includes gripping the chair with one arm and stretching your other arm across your body, then switching.

One of the simplest forms of chair exercises is sitting and standing, where you work out by repeatedly standing, sitting back down and standing again. It sounds simplistic, but it can be quite the work out and help seniors to stay on top of being able to remain mobile in their home.

Remember that these are just a few examples, and that there are many types of chair exercises that can help you get a simple workout in your home.

Last Modified: June 30, 2022

2 Cited Research Articles

  1. Oklahoma State University. (2021, December 22). Chair exercises are beneficial for older adults. Retrieved from https://extension.okstate.edu/articles/2021/chair-exercises.html
  2. National Library of Medicine. (2021, February 16). The Effect of Chair-Based Exercise on Physical Function in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta Analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7920319/