5 simple exercises you can do sitting down

Written by
Helen West

We all know that it's important to stay fit. But as we get older, it's tempting to think that we need to take it easy.

Then there's the fact that painful joints and limited mobility can make activities we used to enjoy more difficult. Sometimes, just going for a walk can feel impossible.

But there are lots of benefits to being active. Exercise reduces your risk of a number of health conditions, including strokes and heart attacks. It also boosts your mood and helps you stay independent.

We've put together five chair exercises that work different areas of the body. If possible, these should be carried out in a sturdy chair without arms. You don't need to suffer from limited mobility to try them out. Give them a go next time you're sitting down watching television!

Hip marching

This exercise strengthens hips and thighs. It also improves flexibility.

Sit upright and forward on your chair, and hold on to the sides of your chair. Lift your leg up as high as is comfortable, keeping it bent, then place it back down again in a controlled manner. It's as simple as that!

Repeat with the opposite leg and do this five times on each side, alternating the leg you lift. This exercise can be repeated for longer if you want to get a cardiovascular effect, as it raises the heart rate and gets your blood flowing.

Overhead arm raises

This helps build up and maintain strength in your shoulders and upper arms.

Sit upright, with your arms by your sides. Raise both arms out to the side and continue lifting them until they're above your head. Try to raise them until your hand are pointing towards the ceiling, or as far as is comfortable. Then slowly lower your arms back down to your sides.

Keep your shoulders and arms straight throughout, and repeat this exercise five times.

Neck stretch

If you suffer from tight neck muscles, this exercise is for you.

Sit upright and look straight ahead. Place your right hand on your left shoulder and hold it down. Tilt your head slowly to the right while holding your shoulder down and hold this stretch for five seconds. Then, do the same in the other direction. You should repeat this exercise three times on each side.

Ankle stretch

This is a good exercise to do if you have poor circulation. It improves your ankle flexibility and lowers your risk of developing a blood clot.

Sit upright and straighten your left leg with your foot off the floor. Hold on to the side of your chair for support. Keep your leg straight and raised, and point your toes away from you. Then, point your toes back towards you. Repeat five times for each foot.

Ankle and wrist rolls

Again, this is a good exercise for those with poor circulation because it gets the blood flowing in your extremities. 

Sit upright with your back straight. Flex your fingers by making a fist several times. Next, make a fist and roll your wrists 10 times in each direction.

You can then do the same with your feet. Point your foot and curl and straighten your toes. Then, one foot at a time, roll your ankle to the outside 10 times, and then to the inside 10 times.

If you've found these helpful, this NHS booklet has lots of exercises for older people or those with limited mobility. They have also created fitness videos specially tailored for those need the support of a chair, like this chair-based pilates video.

If you aren't used to physical activity, you may want to get the all-clear from a GP before starting.

If you spend a lot of time sitting down, it's worth investing in a really comfortable chair. At Middletons, our rise and recline chairs adjust to your perfect sitting position at the touch of a button. Call us free on 0800 999 2831 to find out more!

Read more: Why you should try seated yoga

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