Here’s some chair based exercises we can do at home to stay strong, steady and independent as we age so we can keep doing the things we enjoy.
As we age we tend to lose muscle – you’ll have heard the term that describes this as Sarcopenia. Keeping our muscles strong is vital, not just for independent living but to maintain good health and well-being. The good news is that we can turn back the clock in terms of muscle strength by working against resistance using chair based exercises. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a resistance band, which comes in different colours and strengths. I’m going to show you an exercise routine containing just four simple chair based exercises for the elderly.
1. Hip and thigh strengthener.
For this one you need to keep your feet and knees together, sitting forwards on the chair so that you can wrap the band around your thighs.
Place the band just a few inches up from the knees, lift the heels and wrap the band all the way around your legs. You can wrap loosely to begin with then as you progress you can wrap a little tighter – just make sure you don’t let the band dig into your legs.
Now place your hands on top of the band to secure it but don’t tie it.
You need to edge your feet apart then bring your knees above your feet so your feet, knees and hips are all in line. Whilst sitting up tall and breathing normally, take the knees out a little further. As you go out, hold two or three seconds and come back, making sure the knees don’t cave in.
Keeping this as your starting position, take the knees out and back, keeping the feet flat so they don’t roll out. Aim to do between five and ten repetitions until the muscles seem a little tired. As that gets easier, try and increase the number you do. Leave a short break in between each set and aim to progress to do three sets of ten. This exercise can really help to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint to stabilise the joint and help you do things such as getting in and out of the car.
To finish, bring the feet back in, knees together and then unwrap the band.
2. Chest strengthener
This is a chest strengthener and it works the arms, shoulders to help with things such as pushing open heavy doors and any action that requires upper-body strength.
You can either place the band around your back or around the back of the chair. Sit all the way back in the chair so you’re fully supported then bring the band around on level with the bottom of your ribs.
Taking the band in your hands, turn hands to face palm down and knuckles on the top.
From this position, relax the shoulders and then push the band forward so you’re stretching the band out, then let it relax back. You can make this easier by holding towards the end of the band or you can make it more difficult by holding further back which increases the resistance.
Make sure that you’re not holding your breath, relax back nice and gently, controlling the band as you go.
3. Inner thigh strengthener
This is an inner thigh strengthener which is really important to help with stability and balance.
All you need is a soft ball which you’re going to place between the thighs, up a little way from the knees. Keep the feet just underneath your knees and sit up nice and tall.
All you have to do is squeeze, bringing your legs inwards to squeeze the ball for two or three seconds and then relax back, making sure that you don’t let the ball push the knees apart quickly, keep the action nice and smooth.
Just squeeze and release, trying to hold for up to 3 seconds, breathing normally throughout. Aim to do about ten repetitions then when this gets easy you can build up to do three sets of 10 repetitions.
4. Upper body strengthener
Now you’re going to do another strengthener with the ball that works the upper body. Think how many times you need strength in your arms, shoulders, chest and back to push yourself up out of bed, chair or even to use sticks, walking frames and crutches.
Put your feet and knees together and place the ball on your lap, one hand on top of the other, sitting up nice and tall.
Then squeeze the ball down, pushing down against the resistance and hold for just a second, then release. You can build up the length of time you hold to two or three seconds and just keep going up to about 10 repetitions.
Make sure on this that you’re not holding your breath as you squeeze down.
You can also do this quickly by pushing down firmly and repeatedly for just one second at a time, ten times. It may make you feel quite tired, quite quickly. This also helps build up muscle endurance so you have more stamina to do all the things you enjoy doing.