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Regular exercise can increase cardiac and respiratory health, burn calories, maintain bone health, improve muscle tone and flexibility, and contribute to overall physical and mental health. The need for exercise does not diminish with age, but physical capabilities generally do, often prohibiting traditional forms of exercise. Chair exercises might be a good solution for older adults. The best chair exercises for seniors typically are those that raise the heart rate, work the major leg and arm muscles, stretch muscles, and promote balance. Basic chair exercises include shoulder circles, leg raises, bicep curls, and seated jumping jacks.
Compared with traditional exercises, chair exercises for seniors generally result in less wear and tear on joints, lessen the likelihood of a fall, and reduce the chance of overexertion. Chair exercises can be a good option for older adults who have difficulty standing. The exercises also might benefit seniors with limited movement due to arthritis, or those who are confined to a wheelchair.
Aerobic or cardio exercise increases heart rate, stimulates circulation, and burns calories. Regular cardio exercise — 10 to 15 minutes at least four times a week — can lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the chance for stroke and kidney disease. Examples of cardio exercises that can be done while sitting include shoulder circles, arm scissors, boxing, leg raises, knee-to-elbow lifts, and seated jumping jacks. One of the best aerobic chair exercises for seniors is simply clapping to a rhythmic beat.
Strength exercises can easily be adapted to chair exercises for seniors. These types of exercises help older adults maintain muscle tone and strength, and help reduce bone loss. Examples of strength exercises that can be done while seated include leg lifts, bicep curls with a weighted object, and isometric arm exercises. Generally, isometric exercises are a good choice for building muscle strength because they are easy, effective, and require no extra equipment. Isometrics pits one muscle group against another, such as pressing your palms hard against each other.
Stretching exercises can help keep seniors limber and their joints loose. Examples of stretches that can be done while seated include neck and hip rolls, overhead arm stretches, and hand and feet flexion. Repeatedly raising the toes off the floor as high as possible, while keeping the heel on the ground, is a good way to stretch the ankle and calf muscles.
Balancing exercises strengthen core muscles and can reduce the chance of falling. For example, balancing exercises can be as simple as lifting one or both legs off the ground while trying to maintain body position. People who are fairly mobile can stand and use the chair to hold on to while doing semi-squats or balancing on one leg. Seniors can also do modified yoga poses and breathing exercises to flex the mind as well as the body.
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