14 Easy Mood-Boosting Chair Exercises Seniors Can Do at Home to Build Muscle and Improve Balance

May 1st, 2022

Physical exercise is critical for strengthening muscle, improving stability. For many seniors, the biggest barrier to an exercise routine is the physical challenges that hinder the ability to go for walks, join a yoga class, or visit a gym. The general fear of falling is a big hindrance, too.

At-home chair exercises are a great way to safely move your body and build strength. Following are 14 simple chair exercises seniors can do at home every day to increase energy and get those endorphins going!

Note: We’ve also created a simple cheat sheet with illustrations you can print out at home!  Click here for Exercises from a Sitting Position, and here for Exercises from a Standing Position, using a chair back for balance.

Exercises from a Sitting Position

Do not overdo it. Start slowly and build the number of repetition gradually. Use a firm chair.

Neck Stretches

Side bends: tilt head sideways as if to touch ear to shoulder.

Right: hold 10 seconds, 10 reps

Left: hold 10 seconds. 10 reps

Chin to chest: bend chin forward to chest.

Hold 10 seconds. 10 reps.

Arm Raises

Raise arm up, pause at the top for 2 seconds, and bring down.

Right arm: 10 reps

Left arm: 10 reps

Both arms: 10 reps

Back Stretching and Strengthening

With legs apart, place hands on each side of knee.

Slide hands from knee to ankle and return to upright sitting position.

Right knee: 10 reps

Left knee: 10 reps

Seated Marching

Alternate lifting knees to chest as if marching.

Right leg: 10-15 reps

Left leg: 10-15 reps

Rowing

Make sure to sit as straight as possible. Place arm straight out in front and then pull arm back with elbow next to your side.

Right arm: 10 reps

Left arm: 10 reps

Both arms: 10 reps

Ankle Range of Motion

Point toes up as far as possible and then down as far as possible. Rotate both feet.

Clockwise: 20 reps

Counterclockwise: 20 reps

Knee Extension

Straighten knee, pause and then lower foot back to floor.

Right leg: 10-15 reps

Left leg: 10-15 reps

Small Kicks

Straighten and bend knee as in a kicking motion.

Right leg: 10-15 reps

Left leg: 10-15 reps

Exercises from a Standing Position

To maintain balance, use a kitchen counter or the back of a sturdy chair that doesn’t have wheels.

Calf Stretch

Hold the back of a chair. Step back with one foot, keeping foot straight. Lean forward, keeping heel on floor.

Right leg: hold 30 seconds, 3 reps

Left leg: hold 30 seconds, 3 reps

Lateral Leg Swing

Hold the back of a chair. Move leg straight out to side without bending knee or waist. Keep toes pointed forward.

Right leg: 10-15 reps

Left leg: 10-15 reps

Hip Flexion and Extension

Hold the back of a chair and bring your knee up as close to your chest as possible,  trying not to bend at the waist.

Slowly lower your leg and swing it straight behind you without bending your knee. Then lower it back to the starting position.

Right leg: 10-15 reps

Left leg: 10-15 reps

Heel and Toe Raise

Stand straight with your feet should-width apart, rise up on toes, pause, and lower back down.

Then, keeping your heels flat, lift your toes and lower back down.

Both feet together: 10 reps

Mini-squats

Hold the back of a chair. Bend knees as far as is comfortable. Keep back and head up straight and behind toes. Then return to standing position.

10 reps

Side-to-side Twist

Keeping you feet on the ground, should-width apart, slowly twist upper body from right to left. Stand as straight as possible.

10 reps

Don’t forget! For a step-by-step guide with easy-to-follow visual diagrams, we’ve made it easy to print the Exercising From a Sitting Position [click here] and Exercising From a Standing Position [click here].

Note: Be sure to consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program. The exercises suggested here do not substitute for a program provided by your healthcare practitioner.