19+ Chair Stretches for Seniors


As we get older, it becomes more difficult to be as active as we once were. Stretching is a great way for senior citizens to become active again or to stay active. It’s easy to do and requires little or no equipment, and even seniors with limited mobility can participate.

The 19 chair stretches for seniors include various stretches for the arms, neck, back, and legs. All you need is a chair with a straight back to do these stretches. You can increase the intensity slightly by using a lightweight ball or exercise bands while you stretch.

This article will go over why stretching is so beneficial and what you need to stretch properly. The stretches in the article are separated into segments for seniors with limited mobility, stretches for strength, stretches for flexibility, and stretches you can do while standing beside a chair.

Why Stretching Is Good for Seniors

As we get older, we start to feel more tired and aren’t capable of the kind of physical activities we did when we were younger. It’s just part of being human. Giving up on all physical activity doesn’t have to be the only option, though. Stretching is a great way to gently exercise the muscles to keep them active and flexible. 

Many seniors don’t want to exercise because they’re afraid they won’t be able to do it or that they might get injured while trying. Fortunately, there are many stretches that can be done in a chair. Seniors with limited mobility can participate in these stretches.

This article from the 1980s reports that after many weeks of exercising three days a week, many seniors felt spry enough to walk without their canes and walkers. One senior even ditched their wheelchair. 

Stretching might be the best exercise for seniors. A study showed that seniors who participated in a stretching routine didn’t suffer from as much daily pain as they did before. Meanwhile, seniors who participated in an aerobic routine suffered more pain each day, although they did have more benefits like better fitness, strength, and confidence.

Benefits from regular stretching and exercise may include:

  • Less arthritis pain
  • Improved attitude
  • Lower risk of depression 
  • Lower risk of heart disease, dementia, stroke, and type 2 diabetes

If you or a loved one suffers from daily pain or has trouble getting around, try the stretches recommended in this article. Doing them several days each week will help improve your overall fitness and will most likely make you feel more energetic.

19+ Chair Stretches for Seniors

Equipment Needed for Stretching

The recommended stretches in this article require very few pieces of equipment. You will need:

  • Straight-backed chair – A chair from your dining table will probably be the best. Make sure it has a straight back, it’s sturdy, and it doesn’t have arms. A chair with arms might make it difficult to move around in, and you risk bumping and bruising your arms.
  • Lightweight ball (optional) – You can use the ball to help you keep your posture with some of the stretches. You don’t have to use one, but it is recommended for one of the stretches.
  • Exercise bands (optional) – Exercise bands are used to create tension for a more difficult workout. When used in stretching, the tension will help you stretch out your muscles. These aren’t required, especially if you have limited mobility. You can use them to increase the difficulty after you have been stretching for a while and need something more challenging.

How to Stretch Properly

Start With the Easy Stuff

Begin with the simple stretches that involve very little movement. As you get used to doing those, increase the difficulty by introducing stretches that are a little more involved. As you do the easy stretches, you’ll build the strength for the others. If you have limited mobility or are recovering from an injury, it’s extra important that you don’t do something too intense.

Take It Slow

If you suffer from pain or have limited mobility, it’s important that you do the exercises slowly. Don’t rush to finish them quickly. Go with whatever pace feels comfortable. If you choose to follow along with a video, feel free to pause it and continue the stretching at your own pace.

Stop if You Feel Pain

You shouldn’t feel any pain while you stretch. If something hurts while you stretch, stop, and try something else. Lower back pain can be especially dangerous. Remember to take it slow and don’t overwork yourself.

Take Frequent Breaks

Stop for water and take a breather when you need to. If you begin to feel fatigued, feel free to take a longer break, and finish the routine later. You shouldn’t feel exhausted after a stretching routine.

Stretch Consistently

You’ll see the benefits if you stretch multiple times each week. Try starting out with two days a week, and then progress to 3 or 4 days a week once you feel comfortable doing so. Remember, don’t overdo it and go at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

Consult a Doctor for Pain

If you begin to feel unusual amounts of pain when stretching, you may need to visit a doctor. Stretching shouldn’t cause any pain. If you have existing pain that hurts if you stretch too far, don’t stretch all the way. If the pain becomes unbearable, talk to your doctor in case there are underlying issues. They should also be able to give you some guidance on appropriate stretching routines.

Stretches for Limited Mobility

These stretches are perfect for seniors who can’t move around easily or for those who want to start off small. All of these exercises can be done in a chair. You can choose to stand for some of them if you prefer to do so. 

Arm Circles

  1. Raise your arms out, so your body forms a T.
  2. Move your arms in small circles, moving forward. Do this eight times.
  3. Move your arms in the same circular motion but in the opposite direction. Do this eight times.

Front Arm Raises

  1. Sit with your back straight in a chair.
  2. Hold a ball in your lap with your elbows bent slightly. The palms of your hands should be facing each other.
  3. Raise the ball to shoulder level.
  4. Lower the ball to your lap again. Raising and lowering should take 3 seconds in total.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

Neck Stretches

19+ Chair Stretches for Seniors

  • Ear to shoulder. Touch your right ear to your shoulder for six seconds. Do the same with your left ear for six seconds. 
  • Chin to chest. Slowly tilt your head back. Then, slowly move your head forward until your chin touches your chest. Repeat four times.
  • Look over shoulder. Look over your shoulder far enough that you feel your neck stretching, but not far enough that it hurts. Hold for 6 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Leg Extensions

  1. Sit with your back straight in a chair.
  2. Extend your right leg in front of you with your toes pointed down. Your leg should be straight. Then, return your foot to the floor.
  3. Repeat step 2 with your left leg.
  4. Alternate steps 2-3 for 24 repetitions (12 for each leg).
  5. Extend and lower both legs at the same time with toes pointed down. Six repetitions.
  6. Repeat step 5 with your toes pointed upward.

Shoulder Shrug

  1. Shrug your shoulders and keep them in the upwards position.
  2. Hold for 8 seconds.
  3. Repeat.

Shoulder Rolls

  1. Roll your shoulders forward. Eight repetitions.
  2. Roll your shoulders backward. Eight repetitions.

Stretches for Strength

These stretches are slightly more intense and are meant to increase your strength and cardiovascular health. When you consistently do these stretches, you’ll have better stamina and stronger lungs, so walking distances and climbing up a flight of stairs won’t be so tiring. 

Seated Jumping Jacks

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight.
  2. Raise your arms to the side in a T position.
  3. Raise your arms up above your head.
  4. Return your arms down to your sides.
  5. Do three sets with 20 repetitions per set. You can take a break between sets.
  6. Start slow and then increase your speed. Move your arms like you’re doing an actual jumping jack.

Seated Shin Strengthener

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight.
  2. Straighten your legs and place your heels on the floor.
  3. Point your toes toward the floor, then point them upward.
  4. Repeat this 15 times. Rest. Then, repeat 15 more times.

Tummy Twists

  1. Sit with your back straight against the chair.
  2. Hold a ball near your stomach with your elbows bent slightly. Your palms should be facing each other.
  3. Rotate your torso to the left as far as possible. The ball should follow your movements but stay in front of your stomach.
  4. Return to the resting position.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 on the right side.
  6. Repeat for a total of 16 twists (8 per side).

Stretches for Flexibility

Flexibility isn’t limited to gymnasts and yoga poses. You need to be flexible so you can pick up something you dropped on the floor or reach for something above your head. These stretches will stretch out your muscles and will work best if you save them as the last part of your stretching routine.

Ankle Rotations

  1. Sit up straight with your back against the chair.
  2. Place your right ankle on your left knee.
  3. Rotate your ankle clockwise ten times.
  4. Rotate your ankle counterclockwise ten times.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the other ankle.

Knee to Chest

  1. Sit up straight in a chair. You will need the back of it for support.
  2. Grab your right knee and pull it toward your chest. Stop once you feel it stretching.
  3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then lower your leg down.
  4. Repeat two more times.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the left leg.

Sit and Reach

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your knees together.
  2. Raise your right arm toward the ceiling.
  3. Stretch upward until you can feel it in your torso.
  4. To stretch your neck and shoulders, look up at your hand.
  5. Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds.
  6. Repeat two more times.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 for the left arm.

Standing Chair Stretches

These stretches work best if you’re standing. However, some of the exercises can be done sitting down if you’re unable to stand. You can hold onto a chair for balance while you do these stretches.

Calf Stretch

Standing Version

  1. Stand with the right foot in the front, slightly bent, and the left leg behind you. Hold onto a chair for support.
  2. Press the left heel on the floor so you’ll feel your calf stretch.
  3. Hold the position 10-30 seconds.
  4. Switch legs, then repeat steps 1-3 for the right leg.

Sitting Version

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your right heel on the floor.
  2. Put an exercise band under the ball of your right foot. Hold onto the ends.
  3. Pull on the exercise band until you feel your calf stretch.
  4. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds.
  5. Repeat two more times.
  6. Switch legs, then repeat steps 1-5 for the left leg.

Hamstring Stretch

Standing Version

  1. Place your right heel on something low, like a bench or couch. Use a chair to stay balanced.
  2. Keeping your legs straight, lean slightly forward until you feel your leg stretch. You shouldn’t be able to feel it in your lower back.
  3. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the left leg.

Sitting Version

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your right heel on the floor.
  2. Keeping your right leg straight, lean forward until you can feel your leg stretching. 
  3. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the left leg.

Lateral Hip Raises

  1. Use the back of the chair for support.
  2. Lift your right leg to the side until you feel your hip stretching.
  3. Stand up straight and hold it for a few seconds.
  4. Return to a standing position. Repeat nine more times.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the left leg.

Pliés and Squats

Pliés

  1. Use the back of the chair to support yourself.
  2. Place your feet a little more than shoulder feet apart, toes pointing slightly away from each other.
  3. Slowly lower yourself for 2 seconds. Stand up straight and don’t let your knees go past your toes.
  4. Slowly raise up to resting position.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 for seven more times.
  6. Rest and repeat as long as you can.

Sitting Squats

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight.
  2. Stand up, placing pressure on your heels and the balls of your feet. Keep your back straight.
  3. Sit down in the chair again by squatting – not a regular sitting movement. Bend at the hips and keep your back straight.
  4. Repeat steps 3-4 for nine more times.

Standing Squats

  1. Use the back of the chair to support you.
  2. Squat down, making sure your back is straight. Try to squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, but only go as far as you are able.
  3. Slowly return to standing position. 
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for nine more times.

YouTube Stretch Routines

You can choose to make your own stretching routine with any of the stretches listed above. Make a routine that’s comfortable for you.

However, an established routine with guidance is incredibly helpful if you haven’t exercised in a while and need some help getting started. Here are a few recommended stretching routines that are perfect for seniors. You can sit down to do them and they don’t require too much physical activity.

This video is a good one to start with because they show you how to do the stretch first. They have the instructions and benefits listed on the screen so you can read the instructions, as well. You can follow along with this video and the pace isn’t too fast, but it isn’t super slow, either. 

All the stretches can be done in a chair, so it’s a great routine for seniors with limited mobility.

This video is a little different. It’s chair yoga, which is essentially chair stretches with an emphasis on breathing. The instructor in this video explains what to do and why, which makes this video very easy to follow.

This video is a good place to start if you want to take it nice and slow. It’s a relaxing routine that can help you destress and it will help relieve back pain.

This video is like a mix of the first video and the chair yoga video. It’s a simple stretching routine, but the instructor helps guide your breathing. If you find yourself holding your breath when you stretch, this video can help you control your breathing.

Conclusion

It’s important for seniors to stay active. Doing so can reduce pain, increase flexibility, and keep your mental health in shape. You don’t have to run a marathon to stay active, though – stretching while sitting in a chair is enough to keep you nimble and can even restore some mobility that you may have lost. You can also use stretching routines to recover after an injury or procedure. 

Sources

Anja

Hey there, my name is Anja, I’ve seen and supported my mom’s incredible transformation in her fifties. Seeing how my mom “awakened” and took full control over her life really impressed me. I got inspired and started dreaming about how we could inspire more people, especially women, to open up and create a second life for themselves. That’s how the idea of aginggreatly.com came to life…

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