As we get older, some of us experience mobility limitations and disabilities. In fact, about a quarter of Kiwis aged 65+ experience some form of physical disability.
Sometimes when older adults struggle with mobility limitations, they believe it’s too difficult or even dangerous to exercise regularly. Although limited mobility can restrict what sort of exercise you’re able to do, it’s definitely not the case that mobility issues prevent you from exercising. There are many modifications you can make to popular exercises to make them more accessible. For example, you can opt to exercise using a chair instead of exercising while standing.
Here are six simple chair exercises that can help people with mobility limitations stay healthy and active.
Getting your heart rate up with cardiovascular exercises helps improve heart health and is great for shedding excess weight.
Here are three simple cardiovascular exercises you can do from a seated position:
To do this exercise, sit up straight in a chair with your feet planted and arms at your sides. Lift your right foot and bring your knee up toward your chest. Lower it back down and lift your left leg in the same way.
Continue alternating while bending your elbows and pumping your arms back and forth. Continue for 1-2 minutes, then rest.
For this exercise, start just like you did for the last one, sitting up straight with feet planted. Bring your knees and feet together, then bend your elbows and bring your hands together in the middle of your chest.
Open your arms into a V-shape overhead and, at the same time, open your legs out into a V-shape, just like you would if you were doing jumping jacks while standing. Repeat for 1-2 minutes, then rest.
Kicks and punches
Sit up straight and pull your core muscles in to support your back. Bend your elbows, close your hands to make fists, and bring them up toward your face. Punch your right fist straight in front of your body and, at the same time, kick your left leg forward. Switch sides, punching with your left fist and kicking your right leg. Repeat for 1-2 minutes, then rest.
The following exercises will help strengthen your muscles and decrease your risk of experiencing muscle loss, joint pain, and a decrease in bone density.
Sit up straight and plant your feet on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you, making sure your thumbs are pointed toward the ceiling. Pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulders blends together, bending your arms until the upper arms are in line with your torso. Extend your arms and repeat 8-10 times. You can anchor a resistance band to a table or use weights to make it more challenging.
Sit up straight with your feet planted. Lift your right knee up toward your chest and, when it’s as high as it can go, hold for five seconds. Lower your leg and repeat on the other side. Do 16-20 total repetitions.
Sit up straight and plant your feet. Extend your arms to the sides, then slowly rotate your torso to the left, pulling your abdominals in and keeping your core tight. Return to the middle and twist to the left. Repeat 10 repetitions on each side.
Don’t forget to stretch
In addition to cardiovascular and resistance exercises, stretching is also an essential part of a good fitness routine. Yoga, in particular, has a number of benefits for older adults. Look for a chair yoga class near you — yes, those exist! — and get a good stretch in a couple times per week.
You can also do exercises like forward folds, neck and shoulder rolls, and side stretches on your own when you’re finished exercising to cool yourself down and prevent muscle soreness.