Chair-based exercise

Get fit while you sit


Whether you are unstable on your feet or have pain or other issues preventing you from doing exercises standing up, or you use a chair anyway, there are plenty of chair-based options for doing exercise.



Exercising in a chair also can enhance endurance and flexibility in the upper body, says Dr A. M. Barrett, program director of the neurorehabilitation division at the Emory Brain Health Center in Atlanta. Depending on the moves, chair-based workouts could help with core and postural strength, balance, and range of motion. “If there is one thing people could do to address all their health issues, it’s exercise,” Dr. Barrett says. “And if you have trouble standing, exercising in a chair is a great option.”

Chair workouts can still be challenging, and they can be customized based on a person’s limitations and abilities. “There’s a misconception that if it’s in a chair, it can’t be vigorous,” says Dr. Jori Fleisher, associate professor of neurologic sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

A 2019 study in the journal Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport found that older women who did chair-based aerobic or strength exercises experienced considerable improvements in upper- and lower-body strength and agility, along with a sense of autonomy and a significantly decreased fear of falling.


What You Need. Find a sturdy chair that’s wide enough to allow you to move freely. Don’t use one with wheels, at least not initially. The chair should be at a height that puts your hips at or above knee level, says Ryan Glatt, CPT, a fitness trainer and brain health coach at the Pacific Brain Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. Equipment like dumbbells, ankle weights, exercise bands, medicine balls, Pilates balls, and under-desk bikes can all be incorporated into a chair workout, says Glatt.


How to Position Yourself. Sit toward the front of the chair, place your feet firmly on the ground, and press some weight into them, says Julie Hershberg, PT, DPT, board-certified neurologic clinical specialist and instructor in the division of biokinesiology and physical therapy at the University of Southern California. “We rely on sensory information that comes up through our feet,” she says, and getting that information helps with proprioception (the ability to perceive one’s body in space), which provides a sense of balance and spatial orientation.


What You Can Do. Yoga, dancing, boxing, karate, sports movements, even jumping jacks all can be done in a chair, says Glatt. “A chair can be integrated into a lot of different exercises, and you can incorporate sit-stand exercises as well.” Even people who don’t have physical limitations can benefit from doing stretches in their desk chairs throughout the day or taking a break to do a series of triceps dips or squats using chairs. Wicken calls this “neuro-snacking.” He explains: “Your brain responds really well to intervals of stimulus. Doing short bouts of movement while sitting helps you stay fresh, focused, and neurologically stimulated.”


Online Chair Exercises

Seated workouts: Zumba, cardio, stretching, strength-building  (see them all here)

Zumba exercises with Nancy D.

Stationary cardio with Nancy D.


Sit and Be

YouTube Sit and Be Fit videos


Read the entire article.


SOURCE: Brain&Life Exercise December 2020/January 2021

By Stacey Colino


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