If injuries, balance issues or joint pain make standing exercises challenging for you (or, hey, maybe you just prefer sitting down), try out these low-impact and effective chair exercises. They’re easier on the knees and ankles and will help you gain flexibility, strengthen and stabilize your muscles, increase blood circulation, improve your mood and reduce your risk of a fall. Before you know it, you’ll feel stronger and day-to-day activities will be easier.
Grab a steady chair with back support, and without arms or wheels, and you’re on your way.
Seated jumping jacks
Jumping jacks can still get your heart rate up from the seated position, and sitting is much easier on the joints. Building up your aerobic capacity will allow you to garden, golf, keep up with grandkids and go about your day-to-day activities for longer, and more comfortably.
- Sit toward the front of your chair with your knees bent and arms resting at your sides.
- Extend your legs to the sides, straight and wide, with heels on the floor; at the same time, raise your arms into a V above your head.
- Bring arms and legs back to the center.
- Repeat for at least 10 minutes to get a full aerobic benefit.
Sitting elbow curls
Reaching for things, putting on your seat belt and even breathing are easier when your chest, neck and shoulders aren’t tight and/or sore. This exercise will strengthen and activate those areas and can also help alleviate upper back pain and headaches.
- Sit toward the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and back straight.
- Bend at the elbow, raising both arms up so your knuckles are touching your temples with palms facing forward.
- Leaving your hands in place, bring your elbows together in front, and then back to the starting position.
- Repeat at a moderate speed 20 – 30 times.
Getting up and down is so much easier when your quad muscles are there to help, not to mention getting in and out of the car, going up stairs and the many other times you use your legs throughout the day.
- Sit toward the front of your chair with your feet flat on the floor, back straight, hands crossed over your chest or at your sides.
- Stand up slowly from the seated position, focusing on using your quads. don’t use your hands to push yourself up.
- Slowly sit back down, using your quads and keeping your back straight.
- Repeat at least 10 times.
If you’ve seen a football referee signal a field goal, you know this motion! This exercise is perfect for people who have to sit down all day, or for those who just need good tension-releasing stretch.
- Sit straight up in your chair with both feet flat on the floor.
- Raise both hands straight up and parallel above your head (field goal position).
- Reach as high as you can so you can feel the stretch in your spine.
- Alternate hands, reaching up one at a time like you’re climbing a rope (you should feel it in your rib cage and spine).
- Repeat 10-20 times on each side.
Dedicate two to three days a week, and these quick and simple exercises can have you feeling better, stronger, and more confident (then, feel free to work your way up to five or six days!).