Research studies continue to prove the harmful effects of prolonged sitting, including increased risks of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and muscle degeneration. But what about individuals who aren’t able to stand up and exercise due to being in a wheelchair or mobility limitations? Fortunately, there are many different sitting exercises that can be done to keep the body active and the mind sharp.
Here are some chair fitness suggestions for arms, legs, and aerobics to stay healthy and in shape regardless of your mobility.
Chair Exercises for Seniors
Whether you use a wheelchair on a daily basis or just spend most of your time sitting down because of a mobility impairment, chair exercises for seniors promote strength, flexibility, and a positive outlook on life. To warm up, start with simple neck stretches by slowly tilting the head to each shoulder, and then bringing the chin to the chest and looking up at the ceiling.
Then it’s time to warm up the shoulders by moving them in a circular motion going both forward and backward in sets of 10 to 15. Core exercises are also very important for people who spend most of the day sitting in order to promote good balance and prevent future falls. You can do abdominal twists while seated by holding your forearms out with elbows at your sides. Twist the torso in a controlled motion from left to right while pulling the belly in.
Chair Fitness for Arms
For the arms, one of the sitting exercises you can do is the seated row, which involves sitting at the edge of the seat, holding the arms out in front with the thumbs pointing up, and drawing the elbows back while squeezing the shoulder blades together. This is a great chair fitness routine for strengthening the chest, shoulders, and back, as well as the arms.
Another good exercise for the arms is arm circles, in which you make small circles with extended arms out in front of you or out to each side. Light hand weights can be used once you build up strength with your chair workouts.
Leg Exercises While Sitting
Seniors and people with mobility issues can also do various leg exercises while sitting, such as knee lifts. With this exercise, lift one knee towards the chest, lower it back down to the floor, and repeat with the other leg. Start with 10 repetitions on each leg and build up your strength from there.
Some people who practice chair fitness use a plastic ball filled with air to provide resistance and intensity to their workouts over time. By placing a ball between the legs, you can do an inner thigh squeeze to work the legs, for example. Also, make a point to frequently stretch the ankles by bending and flexing them in order to maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of blood clots from prolonged sitting.
Many people think of choreographed dance routines when the word “aerobics” comes to mind. But there are aerobic sitting exercises that can get your heart rate up and your blood pumping too. For example, you can try chair running, which involves lifting the feet from the floor and moving them in a running motion while holding onto the chair’s arm rests for balance.
It’s typically a good idea to work up to 20 to 30 minutes for aerobic chair workouts to burn calories and build strength. However, you should consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Not only will sitting exercises keep you active and healthy, but they also provide you with a positive goal and a good reason to stay motivated even if you can’t go for a walk or visit the gym. Physical health is very closely tied to mental and emotional health, and exercise goes a long way in promoting all forms of health regardless of age or ability.