Seated Exercises for Older Adults
9 Exercises You Can Do While Sitting Down
You’ve heard it before: Sitting all day is bad for your health. But despite all the research that suggests you buy a standing desk or get moving every hour, the reality is that these kinds of recommendations aren’t terribly realistic for most of us. Luckily, even if you’re stuck in your seat for extended periods, you can still do exercises to stretch and move your body.
We asked fitness trainers Jimmy Minardi, the founder of Minardi Training, and Jessica Bellofatto, founder of KamaDeva Yoga, for stretching and strength-training moves you can do from your seat. While they may not produce the same results as hitting the gym or going for a run, remember that when it comes to exercise, every little bit helps.
Benefits:Works shoulders and triceps
How to do it:Sit on the edge of your chair with your arms by your sides, palms on the edge of the seat, fingers over the edge. Shift your body weight forward and lower down off the chair. Hold your body suspended for 5 counts and then push up back onto the seat. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps.
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Benefits:Works shoulders, improves posture
How to do it:Raise your arms straight out to your sides, to form a T shape, and press your shoulder blades together. Extend arms with palms down, thumbs facing forward, and do 20 forward circles with your arms. Flip your palms up, thumbs facing behind you, and do 20 backward circles with your arms. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
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Benefits: Works hips and thighs
How to do it: Sit on the edge of your chair with your arms by your sides. Extend your right leg out straight and flex your foot so that just the right heel is on the floor (keeping your foot flexed engages the muscles in the shins and ankle). Lift your leg up as high as you can without rounding your back. Hold for 3 counts then lower. Repeat with the other leg. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Warrior 2 With Chair
Benefits:Works thighs and core
How to do it: Bend your front leg to a 90-degree angle and lunge horizontally over the chair, allowing the back of the front thigh to rest fully on the chair. If the chair is too low for the back of your thigh to rest on it, place a few folded towels or blankets on the chair seat to reach desired height. Extend your back leg straight with the foot turned slightly to the side. Stretch and extend your arms straight out from the center of your chest and gaze past the middle finger of the front arm. Hold for about 10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side, holding the pose for up to 1 minute.
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Benefits:Works obliques and core
How to do it:Sitting in a chair, take your right elbow and twist your torso so that your elbow touches your left knee, while bending forward so you feel your abdominal muscles contract. Return to an upright position and then repeat, taking the left elbow and bringing it down to the right knee. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps.
Benefits:Works the triceps, relieves spinal compression
How to do it:Sitting in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor, place your hands on the arm rests of the chair and press down, raising your body off the chair. Extend your arms straight and allow your hips and buttocks to lift up off the chair. Keep your head lined up over your pelvis. Allow your spine to “dangle” and unravel straight down, creating space between each vertebrae. Hold this position or push up and down to work the backs of the arms more. Repeat 4 times if holding; work up to 3 sets of 10 reps if lifting and lowering.
MORE: 6 Off-The-Floor Ab Exercises
Benefit: Works the core muscles
How to do it:Sit tall (chest high and shoulders down) on the front half of your chair. Grasp the sides lightly with your hands and lean back slightly as you tighten your abs and bring your right knee up to chest height. Lower it as you raise your left knee on the next rep. Alternate sides. If you get really good at this, try lifting both knees at once, even just a few inches. Do up to 5 reps per leg. (Too busy to work out? Then you need these super-effective 10-minute workouts. )
Benefits: Works the backs of your thighs
How to do it: If you have a chair with wheels, sit and extend both legs forward, toes up and heels on the floor. Keeping the rest of your body still, press your heels into the floor as you bend your knees and try to bring the chair toward your feet. Extend your legs again and repeat. If you're in a regular chair, place your heels on a towel on a slick floor (or wear socks), and draw the towel toward your chair. Straighten your legs and slide the towel out again to return to the starting position. Do up to 10 reps.
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Benefits: Works your chest muscles
How to do it: Form a goalpost with your arms: Keep your upper arms (shoulders to elbows) parallel to the floor and your lower arms (elbows to hands) perpendicular to it. Bring your forearms together in front of your face. Press forearms together and lift arms 1 inch, squeezing through chest. Return your arms to the starting point, squeezing your shoulder blades together, and repeat as long as you can hold proper form. Your back, chest, and arms will get a workout.
Video: Easy exercises to do while sitting
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