Exercises to Do While Seated for the Elderly

Exercises to Do While Seated for the Elderly

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Use your chair for more than sitting.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your body to improve your health and physical abilities, even as the number of candles on your birthday cake increases. Exercise is particularly important for the elderly who may find that everyday activities, such as showering and cooking, become more difficult. There are many exercises the elderly can safely perform while seated that can strengthen muscles, improve range of motion and develop overall fitness. Choose a sturdy chair without arms and speak with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program.

Start at the Top

Exercises for the neck and shoulders are some of the simplest to perform while seated. Head tilts forward, back and side-to-side and neck circles work the muscles of your neck, improving range of motion and flexibility. Rolling your shoulders forward and backward activates your upper back, chest and shoulder muscles. To perform shoulder rolls, simply move your shoulders in a circular motion forward and back.

Strong Arms Keep You Reaching

The biceps muscles on the front of your arms and the triceps on the back are used repeatedly throughout the day to lift, carry and push objects. Work the biceps while sitting in your chair by holding a hand weight in each hand. Bend your right elbow to lift the weight toward your right shoulder. Repeat with your left arm and continue to alternate. Hold the weights in your hands and press them overhead by extending your arms straight in the air to engage your triceps muscles.

Strong Core, Better Balance

A strong core, which consists of your abdominal and low back muscles, will not only protect your back but also help improve your balance. Leg lifts where you lift one knee at a time while seated work the front of your abdomen. Cross your arms across your chest and slowly twist from side to side to engage your back and the sides of your abdomen. Twists should be avoided, however, if you suffer from osteoporosis.

Lower-Body Support

Strong hips and legs offer a sturdy support system to carry you throughout your day. Strengthen your buttocks by squeezing the muscles. Hold the squeeze for two breaths then relax. Pull one knee at a time towards your chest to stretch your buttocks and the hamstrings muscles on the back of the leg. While holding the stretch for 20 seconds, perform ankle circles with the working leg to improve range of motion in the joint. Finish your lower-body workout with the leg extension exercise that strengthens the muscles on the front of your thighs, which support your knees and are necessary for rising from a seated position. Simply extend one leg at a time, straightening your leg as much as possible. Hold for a breath, lower and repeat with the other leg.

How Much, How Often

Regular exercise is the key to strength and mobility improvements. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults over the age of 65 strength train two to four days per week, allowing for 48 hours of rest and recovery between sessions. Exercises that do not require added resistance can be performed more often. Ten to 15 repetitions of each exercise should be an adequate amount to tax your muscles. If you find this to be too easy, increase the resistance used or increase the number of repetitions.


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