A Simple Exercise to Help Seniors Build Strength
I am a chair dweller. I get up, get in my car, sit and drive to and from work, and as a copywriter, I sit in a chair for eight hours a day working. When I get home, all I want to do is veg out, meaning sit!
When we spend our day sitting rather than moving, we’re not strengthening our bodies, and as we age, they get weaker. And as we age, if we haven’t moved our bodies a lot in our youth, exercise gets harder and harder to do.
Luckily, I found a simple exercise that I can do right from my chair that is great for most people, no matter what their fitness level. All you need is a sturdy chair (nothing wobbly, and no wheels or rockers!) and a non-slippery floor. If you are working with a slippery surface such as linoleum or hardwood, make sure you have no-slip shoes or slippers on to prevent a fall!
It takes five minutes, and repeating the exercise every day can improve your balance, movement, and overall health. It can make you stronger and less likely to have a fall.
Chair Balance Exercise
1) Start by sitting on the chair with your knees bent and you feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor.
2) Put your hands on the edges of the chair at your sides and keep your back and neck straight.
3) Breathe in. As you inhale, lean forward and put your weight on your feet.
4) Breathe out slowly and use the motion to lift yourself out of your chair, using your core (back and stomach) muscles and stand up.
5) Pause to breathe in and out again.
6) Breathe in and lower yourself back into your chair slowly, again, using those core muscles. Sit down as slowly as possible and control your lowering. Don’t just collapse back in your chair!
7) Breathe out.
Repeat this exercise 10-15 times. If that’s too hard for you, start with five, or even one, and work your way up to 10-15. If you do this every day, it will help work some exercise into an otherwise busy schedule and help you keep your balance and strength to prevent falls.
Other Chair Exercises to Try:
Start seated in your chair with your back straight. Slowly lift your right knee toward your chest and then back down to return to the starting position. Repeat this same move with your left leg. Continue alternating eight to 10 times on each side, or 12-15 times if you are more advanced. Focused on the quads, this exercise is great to strengthen your legs which are essential for both standing and sitting safely.
Squeeze your buttocks muscles together while sitting on the chair for a good 2-4 seconds and then release. Repeat this move about 10 times. By strengthening your glutes, you'll notice multiple benefits, including an ease in walking.
Sitting tall in your chair, shrug both your shoulders up toward your ears and then slowly rotate them to the back, down, around to the front, then back to the top. Repeat this move and switch directions, rotating them towards the front and around to the back. Alternate directions of this exercise 10 times or so. This move engages your shoulders and your traps which will help you with lifting heavy objects if you ever need to.
As always, consult your doctor and make sure you are healthy enough to do this every day. Your doctor can even suggest other exercises to do to help keep you balanced in little time.
For more balance exercises to help improve your strength and decrease your chance of falling, visit the National Institute for Health website!