Chair Exercise – A Safe Way for Seniors to Exercise and Stay Fit

Yoga class: Senior women exercising on chair

Whether we like it or hate it, exercising on a day-to-day basis helps keep our bodies moving and working properly as we enter our senior years. It’s important to note that we decrease our chances of age gracefully when we succumb to lazy habits and limit our daily movement. If you or your elderly parent finds it hard to get that daily workout in, tell them not to worry because there are ways to exercise without having to move out of their seat! Chair workouts are a great way for seniors to exercise safely with minimal equipment required.

Please note: the list below is not recommended for everyone. Certain health issues and injuries could make specific workouts very difficult to perform and should most likely be avoided. To err on the side of safety, seniors should ask a doctor or primary caregiver if they are unsure about performing a new workout routine. If you are performing an exercise below and start to feel any intense pain or discomfort, please return to the starting position and stop the exercise immediately.


5 Chair Exercises for Seniors


  1. Seated Bicep Curls – Targets Arm Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12


  • Use a resistance band or a pair of weights.
  • Sit in your chair with hips as far back as possible. Ensure that you are in a comfortable position with your back is firm to the back of the chair. If you choose to use a resistance band, slide it under the chair or sit on it, until it’s equal length to both sides of your body.
  • Engage your core muscles and stick your chest out.
  • Allow your arms to hang with both palms facing forward, while keeping your elbows close to the sides of your body.
  • In a curling motion, move both forearms from the sides of the body to the front of the shoulders (Please modify to your appropriate fitness level, i.e. you don’t have to touch your hands to your shoulders for full range of motion if uncomfortable).
  • Slowly, lower both forearms back to the starting position before repeating.
  1. Extended Leg Raises – Targets Leg Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12


  • Sit comfortably at the edge of your chair.
  • Keep your back straight, core muscles tight and stick your chest out.
  • Both hands should be at each side of the chair to hold the seat securely.
  • Extend both feet forward and point your toes to the ceiling. Your legs should be diagonal to your hips.
  • Raise one leg up as high as you can without moving the center of the body. Simultaneously, the other leg will stay in starting position.
  • Slowly, lower your leg back to the starting position, then repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Extending both the right and left leg counts as one rep.
  1. Tummy Twists – Targets Core Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12


  • Using a medicine ball or a smaller object more suited to your comfort level.
  • Flex core muscles tight and stick your chest out while in a comfortable position on your chair. Gripping the object with elbows bent, be sure to keep your hands in front of your body.
  • Lift the object off your lap while keeping it in front of the body, then twist the torso to the right side.
  • Rotate to a forward position, then rotate to the left, finish by rotating back to a forward position.
  • One full rotation counts as one rep.


  1. Sit to Stands – Targets Core Muscles – Suggested Reps: 8-12


  • Sit comfortably in the chair toward the edge of the seat while maintaining perfect posture.
  • Keep toes pointed forward and place both hands in front of the body. Make sure this starting position is balanced and stable.
  • Sit up from the chair slowly until you are in a standing position. Take note of your knee placement when going from sitting to standing as the knees should not be bending inward. Your hips are the driving force in this exercise, not your knees.
  • Sit back down in a controlled manor and return to the starting position.


  1. Seated Overhead Stretch – Stretches the Body – Suggested Reps: 3-5


  • Sit comfortably in a chair, while maintaining proper posture. Both feet should be flat on the floor. Hips and lower body should also remain in this stable position.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Raise both hands from your hips and over the head slowly, then clasp both hands at the top.
  • Next, arch your back while inhaling slowly and push the stomach forward, this will result in a stretch of the abdomen wall.
  • Hold this position for 10-20 seconds, then exhale as you return to the starting position.


Exercise Safe and Sound at UMC at Pitman!

The chair you need to do these exercises is easily available at home, but the motivation isn’t! One of the most valuable and fun activities available at all United Methodist Community locations is our supervised exercise program. In group classes or one-on-one rehab sessions, we provide both the equipment and the motivation to get moving! A trained exercise therapist helps our residents know what they can handle while providing encouragement and making exercise fun in the process. Plus, our communities have very specialized equipment to help seniors with special needs and physical difficulties. In this way, you can exercise safely under the supervision of a trained, professional physical therapist.

For more information about senior fitness services at UMC Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today.

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