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15 Easy Chair Exercises for Seniors

woman stretching on yoga mat

Staying fit and healthy as you age is important. However, a traditional workout may not be the right choice for you. If you have poor balance, joint pain, a limited range of motion or trouble with mobility, chair exercises may be the best solution.These 15 chair exercises for seniors have multiple benefits:

  • Improved flexibility and range of motion
  • Decreased joint pain and stiffness
  • Improved muscle strength and balance
  • Increased blood circulation
  • Elevated mood and concentration
  • Lowered stress levels

Tips for Getting Started

Choose your chair. You’ll need a stable chair with a straight back and comfortable cushion. No wheels! A sturdy dining room chair can be a good option.

Watch examples. It’s easier to learn if you can see what to do. Some of these exercises come with videos to show you how to do them properly. You can also visit YouTube and search for “chair exercises for seniors” or “seated chair exercises.”

Warm Up First

Get your muscles ready for their workout (and reduce the risk of injury) by doing these warm-up chair exercises for seniors.

Neck Stretch: Sit up straight. Slowly tilt your head toward your right shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold this position while gradually extending your left arm down and to the side. You should feel the left side of your neck stretching. Release, and repeat on the other side. Perform two to five repetitions per side.

Shoulder Circles: In a seated position, place your fingertips on your shoulders. Circle your shoulders forward for fifteen repetitions. Reverse the movement, and circle backward for fifteen repetitions.

All-Over Warm-Up:  This 5-minute video walks you through a warm-up routine to loosen up your whole body.

Strength Exercises

Maintaining muscle strength helps you perform regular daily activities. Here are seated chair exercises to strengthen your arms, core and legs.


  • Seated Shoulder Press – This will increase your strength, mobility and endurance, and help you raise your arms over your head.
  • Seated Row – This will make your shoulders, chest, and upper back stronger without placing too much stress on your joints.
  • Front Shoulder Raises – This helps you hold objects out in front of your body and extend your arms forward.

CoreCore muscles help you bend and move your torso. They also protect your ribs, shoulder blades, pelvis and spine. You need a strong core to do things like get up out of a chair, take a walk or even put groceries on a shelf.

  • Knee to Chest – You can modify this exercise to work one leg at a time, instead of both at once.
  • Leg Kicks – If you’re ready for a little more challenge, try not to touch the feet to the ground until the exercise is finished.
  • Tummy Twists – Use a medicine ball to do this well-rounded exercise for the entire core; it can also aid in stretching the spine.


  • Single-Leg Calf Raises – Calf raises can increase strength and mobility through the lower leg.
  • Heel Slides – These increase your range of motion while strengthening your calves and the muscles running alongside your shins.
  • Knee Lifts – You use your quads in nearly everything you do, so keep them strong.

Flexibility Exercises

Having a full range of motion makes everything easier. Flexibility reduces stiffness and pain, allowing you to perform your daily activities. Do these seated chair exercises at the end of your workout to stretch your warmed muscles.

  • Knee to Chest – This exercise stretches your hamstrings and glutes — big muscles that need to be flexible to prevent injury.
  • Seated Hip Marches – These are helpful for those who need to improve flexibility and mobility through the hips, or who need a modified option for performing cardiovascular exercise.
  • Seated Forward Bend – This movement stretches your lower and upper back.
  • Stay Active with Freedom Square of Seminole

Did you know that when you live at Freedom Square of Seminole, you can keep your body moving by taking part in our daily fitness and wellness programs, including yoga and adapted chair exercises? Find out more.