Chair Sitting Exercises For Seniors

If you are looking for exercises you can do at home or in a group while sitting in a chair you will learn more about chair sitting exercises for seniors in this post.

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to stand and walk into their old age but unfortunately, that’s not the reality.

Many seniors have debilitating illnesses and disabilities that prevent them from performing exercises safely while standing up.

As you might be aware, falling down is one of the leading causes of hospitalization to seniors, and due to osteoporosis, a simple loss of balance can lead to severe injury like hip or arm fracture, concussion, or worse.

Whatever is preventing you from using your legs to exercise, it’s important to realize that it’s still paramount for your (or your loved ones) quality of life to perform any kind of exercise you can.

Exercise has so many benefits to your health as you age, ranging from improved independence to better health markers and improved cognition.

That said, if you have any ability left in your legs, it’s vastly more important to strengthen them than your upper body since your legs hold the most muscle mass and they are responsible for independent movement.

If you are simply having issues with your balance due to weak legs and don’t feel confident performing exercise on your feet, avoiding it is the last thing you should do.

Use it or lose it is a very true saying for your strength, muscle mass, and ability to balance and move freely. If you already have a significant loss of leg strength, improving it should be your main health priority.

If you don’t feel confident improving your leg strength alone, I recommend you get a physiotherapist to help you. A professional can assess your situation and create an effective action plan.

But if you have an actual medical condition that prevents you from working on your leg strength, these chair exercises can help you improve strength levels and mobility of your upper body and to get your heart rate up.

What Are Chair Exercises

Just like the name suggests, chair exercises are strength training or cardio exercises that you can perform sitting down on a chair.

There can be many reasons why you need to sit on a chair while exercising. Maybe you have lost the functioning of your legs completely, you have debilitating hip pain, neurological conditions that affect your balance, etc.

A chair allows a safe and stable platform where you can use your upper body with a relatively low risk of falling. You can also do exercises for the legs while sitting or using a chair as support even if you have problems with balance.

While you use the chair as a support, you can actually use the most of your muscle mass, including your core muscles that are very important for your spine health and of course your arms, upper back, and pectoral muscles.

You can perform strength training, mobility exercises, chair yoga, and even some forms of cardio while sitting down so chair exercises can be diverse if you want them to be.

Are Chair Exercises Effective?

So are chair exercises effective for improving your health, strength, and mobility? Yes, they are. They are usually not optimal but with exercise, it’s always to remember that any amount is usually better than none.

Biology is funny in that way that you lose anything you don’t use very fast. Mother nature is very frugal, it only keeps around what is needed for survival.

If you have ever broken a limb that required a cast, you will know that you will lose pretty much all strength and muscle mass from the limb in just a few weeks.

Now think about how fast you regained the strength and functionality of the limb after that. Probably took only a few weeks to back to normal.

This same effect happens in a less pronounced manner when we don’t exercise and become sedentary. Especially if we lose the ability to walk, for example, the muscle mass of your legs quickly starts to diminish.

This same effect happens to astronauts in space. Because their bodies don’t have to support themselves against gravity, they will start losing muscle mass. That’s why they have complex exercise machines onboard space stations.

Unfortunately aging only exacerbates this problem. The good news is that even a tiny bit of exercise daily can slow down or even prevent this process completely.

So chair exercises are not optimal for building and improving strength and muscle mass. But they are a lot better than nothing and more important they are probably effective enough to significantly reduce the loss of muscle mass if you perform them regularly and consistently.

So let’s look at a couple of exercise routines you can perform on a chair.

Chair Yoga

One of the best exercises you can perform on a chair is called chair yoga. Yoga is both a philosophy and a form of exercise that focuses on stretches, holds, and breathing.

Yoga has been proven to improve strength, mobility, and balance as well as reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure levels so it’s one of the most beneficial activities you can perform.

You can watch this short chair yoga routine by Cara Kircher from YouTube to get a better idea of what chair yoga is like:

If you want to learn more about chair yoga, read my post best chair yoga DVD for seniors.

Chair Strength Routine

Strength training is probably the most important form of exercise for most aging seniors since it helps you maintain and improve the functioning of the muscular system, including your balance, posture, and the dexterity of your hands.

Like I talked about at the beginning of this post, if you still have the ability to walk freely and have full functionality of your legs, you should make it a priority to keep it this way.

But if you for some medical reason cannot perform leg strengthening exercises standing up you should still try your best to at least activate the muscles of your legs as often as possible.

Here is a great example of an exercise routine that helps you activate the leg muscles while seated on a chair by Dartmouth-Hitchcock from YouTube:

If you want to learn more about training your upper body while seated, I recommend you check out my article arm exercises for the elderly.

There are also special resistance chairs that have build-in resistance bands for strength training. You can learn more about these in the article best resistance chairs for seniors.


I hope you found this post about chair exercises for seniors useful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through the comments section below.

While exercising on a chair might not seem very effective at a first glance, it’s important to remember that something is always better than nothing. Especially with exercise.

Your top priority should be to maintain and improve strength and coordination in your whole body as you age so you can maintain independence and quality of life.

If you have lost the ability to stay upright on your legs, the chair exercises can help you maintain the strength you have.

It might even help you build back your strength so you gain the confidence to start using your legs more again, presuming there are no medical conditions of course.

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Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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