Sitting down for long periods of time can increase health risks—which isn’t great news for those with limited mobility. Old age and injuries can lead some adults to spend most of their time in a seated position. But it is possible to stay active…even in a chair. Recent studies show chair exercises could help elderly people improve mobility and function, mental health and cardiorespiratory fitness levels.
Try these five chair exercises and learn how to stay fit while you sit:
SEATED LEG EXTENSIONS
Lift your legs up toward your belly button, while keeping your back straight and bending at the hips. Beginners can keep their knees bent at a 90-degree angle and work their way toward straight-leg extensions as they get stronger. Not only will this exercise work your core, glutes and hips, but it will also help lengthen and stretch your leg muscles for increased flexibility. If you’re feeling ambitious, try bending your upper body forward toward your toes while keeping a straight back, for an added stretch.
SEATED JUMPING JACKS
Lift your arms above your head or up to shoulder height. Extend them out into a Y shape. At the same time, spread your legs into a V shape while tightening your muscles to keep them straight. Hold the pose for a moment before returning to
your starting position. Feel this full-body exercise in your shoulders, back, hips and core. As you get stronger, try lifting your legs higher off the ground to increase the intensity in your abs.
SEATED TRICEP DIPS
Place your hands next to your hips, keeping them no wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend and straighten your elbows to raise your bottom up and down in a seated position. You’ll feel this chair exercise in your triceps. To increase the intensity of the movement, straighten your legs to lift more of your body weight up and down with each dip.
SEATED ARM CIRCLES
Extend your arms out to the side, straightening them as much as you can comfortably. With straight hands or fists, move your arms forward and backwards in circular motions, flexing your muscles with each repetition. Start with small circles that stay near shoulder height, and move on to large circles that reach above your shoulders, as you get stronger. For an even greater challenge, hold onto dumbbells for added weight. You’ll feel this chair exercise in your shoulders, biceps and triceps.
You don’t have to use your feet to run! Circle your legs forward and backward as if you’re jogging while remaining in a seated position. Pump your arms at the same time, feeling the stretch in your back, hips and torso. This is one of many chair exercises that can get your heart rate up and help increase blood flow. Try “running” for 30 seconds at a time and work your way toward a full minute.
Try the five chair exercises listed above and see how your fitness levels improve over time. Soon enough, you may have built up enough strength and endurance to complete some of them while standing up.
Tips by Mary Lambkin
for BlueCross BlueShield
Promotional content provided by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Independent Licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association.