Exercising from the not-so-easy chair

It is well-documented that staying active is a key to good health, but not everyone can hike a mountain, ride a bike or join a dance class. For people with limited mobility, getting enough exercise can be challenging, but with a little effort and some consistency, there are exercises that can help maintain overall strength, balance, stability and range of motion.

It is always advisable to consult your health care professional before starting any fitness program. Be sure to warm up with some gentle stretches and arm movements before beginning the exercises below. When you have finished, repeat your stretching moves to cool down and relax your muscles.

Getting started

1. Choose a sturdy chair that allows you to keep your knees at a 90-degree angle with feet flat on the floor.

2. Sit tall during each exercise with your shoulders straight but relaxed and your back well-supported by the chair back. Use your abdominal muscles to support your torso and maintain good posture. Remember to breathe and drink water between moves.

3. Don't just go through the motions of the exercise; really flex your muscles as you use them to create the movements. Think about what you're doing.

4. Repeat this program at least three times a week, with a day of rest in between.

Seated back-and-forth slides

1. Sit tall and place paper plates under each foot.

2. Push onto the right plate and slide foot forward.

3. Slide foot back, pressing onto the plate to activate hamstrings while sliding left foot forward.

4. Continue alternating for 16 repetitions (one repetition includes both right and left slides).

Leg extensions

1. Sit tall with feet flat on the floor and knees together.

2. Squeeze quads to raise and straighten the right leg, foot flexed.

3. Bend knee to lower the foot, lightly touching the floor.

4. Repeat for 20 repetitions and switch sides. You may add ankle weights for more intensity if desired.

Inner-thigh squeeze

1. While seated with good posture, place a ball (soccer or volleyball will work) between your knees.

2. Squeeze the ball by contracting inner thighs and release slightly — don't release all the way — and repeat for 16 repetitions.

Chest squeeze with medicine ball

1. Sit on an exercise ball or chair with your back straight, abdominals tight.

2. Hold a medicine ball (or any other type of ball) at chest-level, elbows out, and squeeze the ball to contract chest muscles.

3. While squeezing, slowly push the ball out in front of you at chest-level until elbows are almost straight.

4. Keeping pressure with your hands, bend elbows and pull the ball back to chest. Repeat for 16 repetitions.

Seated lateral raise

1. Sit with good posture holding light to medium dumbbells at your sides.

2. Keeping elbows slightly bent and wrists straight, windmill arms up to shoulder level (palms face the floor).

3. Lower back down and repeat for 16 repetitions.

Overhead press

1. Sit with good posture while holding light to medium dumbbells in both hands.

2. Begin the move with elbows bent at 90 degrees, weights next to your ears.

3. Press weights overhead and lower back down, repeating for 16 repetitions.

Bicep curls

1. Sit and hold light-to-medium dumbbells. Use abdominals to support torso.

2. Curl weight up toward your shoulder. Concentrate on squeezing bicep muscle, then release.

3. Avoid swinging weights and keep abdominals engaged. Repeat for 16 repetitions.

Seated rotation for abs

1. Sit with good posture holding a medium-weight dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands.

2. Keeping abdominals contracted, rotate your torso to the right while keeping hips and legs facing forward.

3. Contract abdominals to bring the weight back to center and then rotate to the left. Repeat for 12 repetitions.


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