Exercise From Your Chair or Wheelchair

Are you setting a resolution for 2019?

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to get more exercise. Exercising has been proven to lower your risk of many different diseases, including heart disease, lung disease, and Alzheimer’s. It also makes you feel better and lighter throughout the day.

If you have mobility issues, but are otherwise healthy, you may resign yourself to a sedentary lifestyle without the amazing benefits of exercising. After all, don’t you have to be mobile, at the very least, to exercise?

Not so.

Here are 10 exercises made to do in a chair—and they can provide many of the same benefits as traditional “upright” workouts.

These moves can develop your muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Try some or all, and incorporate your favorite ones into your daily routine.

Just remember to check with your doctor first if there you have any medical contraindications for exercising.

Preparing for Your Workout

Use a comfortable, straight-backed chair that allows you to rest your feet on the floor. Don’t use a recliner, backless stool, or bar-height chair.

It’s important to warm up before performing any exercise, and chair exercises are no different. Warming up loosens your muscles, reducing your risk of exercise injury.

Perform these two warm ups before moving to the rest of the workout:

Neck stretch: Sitting straight up in your chair or wheelchair, bend your head slowly toward your right shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold the position for a few seconds, and then repeat on the left side. Do this 2–5 times to warm up your neck.

Shoulder circles: Bring your fingers to your shoulders. Move your shoulders forward in 15 circular motion, and then backward for 15 repetitions.

5 Seated Exercises for Seniors

  1. Seated row: Sit at the edge of your chair, with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms, leaving your elbows bent at a slight, comfortable angle.Drawing your elbows back, squeeze together your shoulder blades. Bring in your elbows until your upper arms are in line with your body. Repeat 8–10 times.
  2. Shoulder rolls: Sitting erect, slowly rotate your shoulders in a circular motion—up toward your ears, backward, down, forward, and up again. Then reverse the circle, moving your shoulders forward, down, backward, and up. Do as many circles as you can, up to 20 at once.
  3. Knee lifts: Start off with your feet flat on the ground. Gently lift your right knee toward your chest, and then return to starting position. Repeat with your left leg, up to 10 times per leg. To make this exercise more challenging—and effective—hold each knee up for 5 seconds before lowering it.
  4. Tummy twists: Sitting straight up, brace yourself by sucking your stomach toward your back. With your forearms extended at a 90-degree angle to your body, rotate your upper body completely to the left. Keep your lower body still and your core braced. Return to starting position, and then rotate right. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Seated jumping jacks: Seated at the edge of your chair, extend your arms out and above your head, as if performing a standing jumping jack. Lower them to your sides, and then raise them again. Start off slow, increasing your speed to your max. Repeat 20 times. This workout is done best in a chair without arms.

Getting to used to chair exercising can take time, but it’s worth sticking with it. You don’t need to be mobile to exercise and improve your wellness and quality of life.

Here’s to a healthy, fit, and happy new year!

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