Seated Exercises for Seniors

by Feb 13, 2023Exercises, Health and Wellness

How to stay active as you get older

This series is to help older adults stay healthy and safe. These exercises are from the SAIL (Staying Active and Independent for Life) program. Make sure you have a nice, solid armchair for these exercises. 

Safety Tips for Level 1 SAIL Exercises:

  • Do only the activities you feel safe and comfortable doing
  • Sit tall through all the activities, preferably in a firm chair with armrests
  • Keep breathing normally, do not hold your breath
  • Hold position means hold position for 3 secs
  • If necessary, begin with just a few of the activities but do them several times each day
  • Overtime, add more activities until you are doing all of them
  • Overtime, do more of each activity

If any of these activities add to your pain or shortness of breath, stop and rest. Do less another day, talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Toe Lifts

  • Start by sitting in a firm armchair, with your feet flat on the floor
  • While keeping your heels on the ground, lift your toes, hold 3-5 seconds and then relax your feet back onto the floor
  • Repeat this 5 times
  • If you feel pain with this, you don’t need to raise your toes as high

Heel Raises

  • With your feet flat on the floor, lift your heels off the ground
  • Hold for 3-5 seconds and then relax them back onto the floor
  • The height doesn’t really matter but you want to try to raise them as high as you can
  • Repeat this 5 times
  • To make this harder, you can increase repetitions or the amount of time you hold the heel raise

Marching on the Spot

  • With your hands on the arm rests, lift one leg off the ground as high as you can
  • Hold for 1-2 seconds and then bring it back down
  • Do the same with the other leg
  • Repeat this for 10-15 seconds and then rest for a few seconds before you begin marching again
  • If you’re experiencing any pain or pinching, you don’t need to lift your leg as high

Breathing Activity

  • Place your hands on the sides of your lower ribs, this will help make sure that you’re expanding through your ribs and not breathing through your upper chest
  • Inhale through your nose, like you’re smelling roses, hold for a second or two
  • Exhale through your mouth like you’re blowing out birthday candles
  • While you’re breathing in and out, you’ll want to feel your ribcage expand as you breathe in and compress as you breathe out

Breathing Activity with Arms

  • Like the breathing activity above, you want to inhale through the nose, hold it for a few seconds and then exhale through the mouth
  • As you inhale through the nose, you want to bring your arms up
  • Hold for a second or two
  • As you exhale through the mouth, bring your arms back down

Letters in the Air

  • With your hands on the arm rest, start by lifting up your right leg
  • Try to draw a capital ‘A’ with your whole leg (not just your ankle), rest
  • Next, with your left leg, lift it up and draw a capital ‘B’ and then rest
  • Repeat this, switching between each leg for every letter
  • The amount of letters you draw is up to you, the more letters you do, the more challenging this will be

Tap Dancing from Sitting

  • Starting with heels taps in front of you, extend one leg out at a time, tapping your heel to the floor, this is the easy version
  • If that’s too easy, you can increase the speed of the heel taps
  • To make this more difficult, you can try different patterns, you can tap your heel, the outside of the foot, the inside of your foot and your toes, returning to starting position after each move

Buttock Walks

  • With your hands holding the armrests, shift your weight slightly to the left and bring your right buttock forward
  • Shift the weight over to the right and bring your left buttock forward
  • Repeat this until you feel like you’re on the edge of the chair without falling off
  • Once you’re at the edge of the chair, repeat the same steps but going backwards

Check out the video below to follow along with the exercises in real time.