Do chair exercises work?

Do chair exercises work?

Is it possible for someone to remain physically active while sitting down? More often than not, society and the media portray physical fitness using people who can run a mile in a few minutes or lift hundreds of pounds. In reality, everyone can perform physically engaging activities that improve their well-being, self-image, and emotional state.


What is a chair exercise?

A chair exercise is an effective way to be physically active from a seated position. Chair exercises offer a great low-impact alternative to traditional workouts and can be easily performed in the comfort of one’s own home. 


Who needs to perform chair exercises? 

Everyone can benefit from performing chair exercises. As we age, being physically active becomes more challenging. Chair exercises for seniors can help them burn calories and be happy with their bodies. And any individual using adaptive seating will find chair exercises are a fun way of staying active.


Are chair exercises effective?

Performing chair exercises can help someone burn calories and improve posture, flexibility, blood circulation, and much more. They also have psychological benefits, such as reducing the risk of a person developing dementia or depression (source).

How to buy a therapeutic chair


5 chair exercises 

1. Seated jacks

Seated jacks are similar to jumping jacks and can be easily performed with a little bit of stretching. 

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Step 1: Place yourself slightly forward in the chair, but not so much that you lose stability.
  • Step 2: Bend your knees and feet together as if you were sitting still, and rest your arms by your sides. This will be your starting position.
  • Step 3: Extend your legs straight with your heels touching in a V position. At the same time, raise your arms in a second V position.
  • Step 4: Once you’ve stretched, return to the starting position. 

Don’t feel compelled to stretch all the way or to do it hastily all at once. Give your body time to get used to the movement. If it is too difficult to do both arms and legs together, you can try alternating sets of arms, then legs. Remember to stop if you feel like you’re starting to lose your balance. 

2. Seated shoulder press

Normally, this exercise is performed using weights. If you don’t have weights, you can use a couple of water bottles. The advantage of using bottles is that you can fill them up with as much weight as you feel you can handle. 

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Step 1: Sit with your back straight and against the back of the chair.
  • Step 2: Hold the weights and lift your arms at a 90-degree angle, like a football goalpost.  
  • Step 3: Push the weights upwards until your arms are almost straight. Take your time and use the same amount of strength throughout the whole movement. A uniform motion allows the muscles to work to the best of their ability and helps prevent injuries.
  • Step 4: Bring your arms back to the goalpost position. Remember to move your arms the same way you did while going up. This type of exercise rewards endurance, not brute force, so it is important to move slowly but steadily.  

3. Sit-to-Stands

If you are able to stand up, this exercise will help you pick up the habit. You might only be able to do a few repetitions at once, but once you’ve progressed, you might even wish to include a medicine ball or a small weight.

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Step 1: Place yourself slightly forward in your chair. Your feet should be under your torso and approximately shoulder width apart.
  • Step 2: Lean slightly forward with your back straight. In a slow and steady motion, reach a standing position. Use your arms for balance by extending them forward.
  • Step 3: Once you’re on your feet, you can reverse the motion and sit down. If you feel uncertain of where the chair is, you can use your hands to locate it.
  • Step 4: Once you’ve sat down, you should try again. As mundane as it sounds, a few repetitions will be enough for you to start feeling engaged. If you are unable to fully stand, then try standing halfway before returning to your seat.

4. Seated hip stretch

Many seniors experience hip issues which can develop into further health complications. Chair exercises can help protect against the loss of hip flexibility. 

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Step 1: Sit in your chair with your back straight.
  • Step 2: Cross one leg over the other. The ankle should be just above the knee, forming a triangle shape.
  • Step 3: Start leaning slightly forward without arching your back. Keep that position for a brief moment. 
  • Step 4: Return to the starting position. Then change legs and repeat the movement. 

Although this exercise might not feel as intense as the ones mentioned above, it will have a considerable impact on your hip flexibility. Increasing the flexibility of your muscles will help them work better and will improve your capacity to do other types of exercises.

5. “Walking” in your chair

Some mobility chairs are designed to allow you to walk while sitting in your chair.   Our REAL Chairs have a specially designed base that allows you to walk your chair without your fit hitting the chair.

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Step 1: Sit in your chair with your back straight.
  • Step 2: Walk forward across the room while sitting in your chair going forward from your heel to your toes.
  • Step 3: Walk backward to your starting point going from your toes to your heel
  • You may need to sit forward in your chair with the seat tilted forward to keep your feet on the floor.

For people who can not stand safely, this exercise allows you to build or maintain strength and flexibility.


What are the benefits of chair exercises?

Chair exercises benefit a person’s physical and psychological health. By exercising periodically, any individual can feel stronger, more confident, and better about themselves.

Strengthen your muscles

Growing older has an effect on our muscle mass. Eventually, this can lead to a loss of mobility and a higher risk of physical injury. Performing upper and lower body chair exercises helps keep the muscles in your arms and legs active, which increases your physical strength. It also relieves back pain by improving your posture. 

Improve your flexibility and balance

The key to staying flexible is to always be stretching. Chair exercises for seniors allow your muscles to achieve their full range of motion. Flexible muscles are stronger and offer better stability. 

Elevate heart rate

Over 40 years of scientific research reinforce the connection between physical activity and the prevention of adverse health conditions. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the five major factors of cardiovascular disease (the other four factors are smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood lipid values). (source).

Increase blood circulation

Poor blood circulation can manifest itself as numbness or a tingling sensation in your hands and feet. It can also cause other health conditions such as digestive problems. As you stretch during chair exercises, you allow your blood to flow, and this improves circulation.

Reduce feelings of fatigue

While not necessarily life-threatening, feeling tired all the time is one of the biggest nuisances of aging. Replacing your nap time with some light chair exercises can help you stay energetic throughout the day. 

Research has proven that performing regular exercise can help increase the energy levels of people who are afflicted by chronic medical conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Exercise has also been shown to help with other conditions such as narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (source).

Enhance your memory

The brain is a muscle, and by doing regular exercises, you are also giving your brain a workout. Because exercise increases the body’s oxygen supply, it also promotes the growth of new cells and blood vessels in the brain. This can sharpen your memory. 

According to information published by Harvard Medical School, exercise stimulates physiological changes in the body, such as the growth of new blood vessels. It can also enhance the abundance, survival rate, and overall health of brain cells (source).

Improve your mental health

Exercising encourages the release of endorphins. These are neurotransmitters that alleviate pain in the body and promote feelings of pleasure. While endorphins are currently not fully understood, it is known that they play a role in boosting mood and self-esteem, and could help promote a healthy immune response (source).


Shop for mobility and clinical chairs 

You can achieve an unprecedented level of comfort and independence with EMP Living’s various adaptive seating options. With REAL mobility chairs, you can remain seated while also performing a wide variety of daily tasks. All chairs are fully customizable. Special chairs for medical settings are also available. REAL chairs are the ideal adaptive seating option regardless of your lifestyle or body type. 

Thanks to a small frame and large wheels, REAL Adult chairs can easily traverse through doorways and other tricky areas. Not only will you be able to move around the house, but you can also rely on this sturdy chair for support while doing exercises, preparing food, washing dishes, reaching the contents of drawers, and performing other tasks.

All REAL chairs come with an integrated brake system, which allows users to keep the chair safely in place when it needs to be. Moreover, the height adjustability features of REAL chairs provide a wide range of heights that can be attained, offering people the opportunity to be comfortably seated at any height. You will never again feel like a table or drawer is too high or low for you to reach. 

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