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Why you must try chair exercises

Chair exercises offer a safe and effective way to improve your fitness.  PHOTO/ www.multicare.org

What you need to know:

  • Whether it is in your office, at home, or in a class, chair exercises are a great low-impact way to incorporate movement into your routine.

Chair exercises are exercises done while sitting in a chair. They provide a secure way to work out without the risk of slipping or falling, making them suitable for people of all ages. Whether you are recovering from an injury, dealing with limited mobility, or just starting your fitness journey, chair exercises can be a great option.

These exercises allow you to target various muscle groups, including the abdominals, arms, chest, thighs, hamstrings, and back, all while seated in a chair. If you are looking for a low-impact workout or an alternative to traditional cardio exercises, chair exercises can help you stay active without excessive panting and sweating.
Overall, chair exercises offer a safe and effective way to improve your fitness, making them a great option for anyone looking to stay active, regardless of their physical condition.

Perfect for beginners 
Exercise can be challenging and uncomfortable, which is why many people avoid it. If the idea of working out makes you anxious, consider trying chair workouts, recommended by Johnson Businge, a gym instructor at Kampala Serena Hotel. Starting with chair exercises can make working out less intimidating for beginners.

Easier on the knees, hips
Chair exercises may be a better option if you have knee or hip issues. Many older adults face these challenges, but even younger people can experience them. Businge says chair exercises reduce the pressure on those joints, making your workout safer. This decreased pressure lowers the risk of further injury and can aid in the recovery process.

Better coordination
Have you ever been to a aerobics class and noticed how some people just cannot seem to keep up with the rest? Those who struggle to keep up may have poor coordination, which could be a symptom of something more serious such as limited range in some joints or even injury. Eventually, failing to keep up with the rest may lead them to cancel their gym membership. Businge suggests trying chair exercises to avoid worrying about injuries that result from lack of coordination.

Better balance
Many people struggle to maintain their balance or stand on one leg for even a few seconds without risking a fall. This lack of balance can make working out while standing difficult and unsustainable, according to Businge. For those who are unsteady on their feet, chair exercises could be a great alternative. Chair exercises eliminate the risk of falling.
Here are some chair exercises to try out. Remember to repeat each exercise at least five times before moving on to the next.

Mountain climber
l Stand in front of a sturdy chair with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
l Lower your upper body toward the chair and place your palms flat on the edge of the seat directly below your shoulders.
l Extend your legs straight out behind you with your toes planted and heels elevated off the floor.

l Brace your core muscles and keep your back flat and straight. Keep your eyes looking down at the seat. Your body will be at a slight angle.
l Bring your right knee toward your right arm. Then, as the right leg returns to the starting position, bring your knee toward your left arm. This completes one repetition.
l Continue alternating. Modify the pace if needed. To make it easier, perform the movement at a walking speed. Increase the pace to make it more advanced.

Elevated push-up
l Stand facing a sturdy chair with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides.
l Lower your upper body toward the chair and place your palms flat on the seat. They should be directly below your shoulders.
l Extend your legs straight out behind you with your toes planted and heels elevated off the floor.
l Brace your core muscles and keep your back flat and straight. Keep your eyes looking down at the seat. Your body will be at a slight angle.

l Bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest to the seat until the elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
l Push your body away from the chair until your elbows are extended. This is one rep.

Seated overhead press
l Sit on the seat of a sturdy chair with your torso upright and your back up against the back of the chair. Keep your feet planted on the ground.
l Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your shoulders, palms facing in and elbows bent. This is the starting position.
l Press the dumbbells overhead, straightening your elbows completely. Make sure to keep your core engaged, and try not to arch your back.

• Slowly bend your elbows to lower the weight back down to the starting position.
Triceps dip
l Stand with your feet hip-width apart and back facing a sturdy chair. Sit down on the edge of the seat.
l Place the palms of your hands on the edge of the seat, shoulder-width apart. Your fingers will wrap around the edge of the seat.

l Slide your butt off the seat and extend your legs in front of you with your heels on the floor and toes pointing up.
l Slowly bend your elbows and lower down as low as you can go. If you feel discomfort in your shoulder or wrists, decrease the distance you lower your body.
l Pause at the bottom and contract your triceps (muscles in the back of your upper arm) to push yourself back up to starting position.

Adaptable 
Make your workout as hard or as easy as you need to - push the class hard and work up a sweat with a high-energy cardio routine, or adapt your class to an aged care setting and focus more on mobility and flexibility. Whatever workout you want to do, whatever fitness levels you have in your class, chair-based exercise is so versatile and easy to adapt.