5 Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors to Tone Muscles

Senior Strength: 5-Minute Chair Workout to Tone Your Muscles

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes read

Age should never be a barrier to physical activity. In fact, as you age, strength training is needed more than ever! So, we developed this simple chair exercises for seniors.

One of the biggest struggles seniors face is decreased muscle tone. Through a phenomenon termed Sarcopenia, once you hit 30, you lose 3-8% muscle tone each decade according to research!

By the time we hit 60, many inactive seniors have lost 24% of the muscle they had in their younger days. And their losses only multiply from there…

For aging adults, strength and muscle tone are so critical as to minimize the risk of osteoporosis and various chronic illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.

Muscle mass and frequent activity are also vital for improving sleep and decreasing depression. Scientists have even found that seniors with increased muscle tone have maintained age-long bone density, independence, and vitality.

5 minutes senior strength training by coach todd

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people ages 65 and over should aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, as well as 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities.

But workouts created by “fitness gurus” or top personal trainers are not designed for those 50 and up. They are often too hard for seniors and don’t take their unique needs into consideration.

A successful strength workout for seniors must start slow. You must know your limits and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, pause the exercise and try another one.

Not sure where to start?

Luckily, we developed this 5-minute workout, complete with chair exercises for elderly people (or anyone really!), you can do to increase strength throughout your whole body, and improve muscle tone. All you need is a sturdy chair!

The Complete 5 Minutes Chair Exercises For Seniors

Follow these simple seated exercises for seniors to slowly regain back any lost muscle mass and strength, while staying safe through each movement!

1. Seated Row

Start in a sturdy chair, holding 1-pound hand weights in both hands if you want. Sit up tall with good posture  — shoulder blades down and back with a neutral spine.

Coach Todd showing seated row exercise workout to increase strength

Lift your arms so they are straight out in front of you. Start to bring your elbows backward by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Remain sitting tall and hold this “row” for 5 seconds before returning your arms out to straight in front.

Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

An often neglected muscle group in older adults, the muscles of the upper back are key components in remaining upright. And a strong posture is the first step in a strong body.

2. Seated Tummy Twist

Designed to work the core muscles, the tummy twist should be done seated in that same chair with good posture. Clasp your hands close to your body with the elbows bent.

Seated tummy twist chair workout shown by feel good life coach todd.

Slowly rotate your torso to the left as far as comfortable, keeping the rest of the body still. Rotate back to the middle and then to the right. Two twists equal one rep.

Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

Our core muscles, a.k.a the muscles of our stomach and low back, help to stabilize our spine and increase our balance. Strong core muscles mean less likelihood of falls and serious injury from them.

3. Overhead Arm Raises

Chair workout called overhead arm raises by Coach Todd

With feet flat on the floor and the back straight, slowly raise your arms overhead. Pause slightly when our biceps are by your ears, then lower back to the starting position. Keep your belly button pulled in towards your spine through the entire movement.

Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

Overhead arm raises help to strengthen the shoulders and arms by mimicking everyday movements of bringing objects to your chest then overhead (i.e. putting groceries from the floor/table onto a shelf).

4. Inner Thigh Squeeze

Inner thigh squeeze is one of the most popular chair workout.

While sitting on the edge of the chair, roll a bath towel up and place it between your knees. Keep a tall, upright posture as you begin to squeeze the towel with both legs for 5 seconds.

Relax just enough to remove tension in your muscles, but keep the towel in place.

Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

Our body moves in many different directions, and leading those directions are the hips! These Inner Thigh Squeezes help to strengthen the muscles of the hips to allow for safe, dynamic movements in the future.

5. Knee Lifts

Senior Strength exercise called knee lifts

To perform knee lifts, stay at the edge of your chair, holding the sides for support if needed. Slowly lift the right knee slowly towards your chest, then back to the beginning position with control.

Repeat the motion using the left leg. Alternate the legs. Remember to keep your back straight and avoid leaning back to gain new heights.

Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

Knee lifts work many of the core muscles including the stomach, hip flexors, and quads. Each is an important muscle for sitting and standing.

6. Knee Extensions

Knee Extension exercise help increase strength in senior

In the same starting position as the exercise before, gently extend the right leg, lifting the toe to the ceiling this time. This will result in one straight leg out in front of you, with tensed quad (front thigh) muscles and flexed toe.

Gently lower your right leg and repeat on the left. Alternate the legs. Remember to keep your back straight and avoid leaning back to gain new heights.

Repeat for a total of 10 reps.

Knee extensions are also a great exercise to strengthen your sit-to-stand muscles by working the muscles around our knees — a key joint when standing, sitting, and walking.

Here is a printed chart for you!

Easy chair workout routine for seniors

Benefits of Staying Active Over 50

Current research has shown that individuals who strength-train are capable of overcoming weakness and frailty, and their weakening effects.

Regularly performed (e.g., 2-3 days a week), these chair exercises for the elderly develop muscle strength and muscle density, as well as many other improvements in quality of life.

An increase in muscle mass is also accompanied by a progressive decrease in fat mass and consequently changes in body composition. Decreased incidence of insulin resistance, joint stiffness, along with the risk of osteoporosis is soon to follow.

Wondering What's Next?

Discover 11 Easy, At-Home “Stretch Exercises” for Stronger, Pain-Free Joints (click below)


6 Responses

  1. Thanks, Todd. I have osteoarthritic knees, one knee is bone on bone and I am trying to get back to exercising after knee
    fluid replacement to help with pain and postpone surgery a little longer. These exercises are perfect for me at this time of healing and trying to strengthen upper thighs and knees. Exercise is painful but necessary to get muscles that haven't been working well due to pain and as you explain to stay healthy and self-sufficient in older age. (which, by the way, creeps up when you least expect it when your mind is still feeling 20-something).

    Looking forward to good results and strengthened muscles! Thanks, again Todd and I love hearing about your families travels.

    1. Carol, I am sorry to hear about the pain you experience from your osteoarthritic and bone on bone knees. I hope the exercises in this article help you reduce your knee pain and strengthen your muscles. I can't wait to hear how you're enjoying the exercises and how they are working for you!

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