TOP 6 exercises for the elderly or those with reduced mobility

In bodybuilding, there is an incredible amount of movement to strengthen all parts of the body. They are often done in a standing or seated position, and some even require a certain balance in the execution.

But if you are near or over 70 years old, some of them are too difficult and can generate injuries. In addition, some present too high a risk of falling.

However, physical activity remains essential for you, and that is why I invite you to read this special file Elderly exercises. Note, however, that these movements are also very useful for anyone who is overweight or has a mobility problem.

In fact, seated muscle-strengthening exercises are good for getting back into shape, regardless of age. They are defined as senior exercises because they often lack strength in the thighs and legs.

But you lack balance, have diabetic neuropathy (diabetes-related nerve damage that can affect the legs and feet), or are recovering from a major health condition, you definitely need to consider these home exercises.

Plus, no matter your level of mobility, balance, or strength, adding seated exercise to your routine when you're at the desk or watching TV can help you become and stay more active every day.

6 exercises for seniors or people with reduced mobility

These 6 moves will help you build functional strength and improve joint mobility. You will be able to do a real session without stressing your joints. To do them, you will need a chair, a resistance band and a mini loop band.

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Do 1-3 sets of each exercise depending on your ability, taking 1-2 minutes rest between each set.

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1. External shoulder rotation with elastic band

This exercise for seniors strengthens the muscles of the upper back and the back of the shoulders (posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres major, teres minor). They are very important for improving posture and straightening the shoulders.

Muscles worked: Upper back and shoulders

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Execution :

  • Sit up straight, shoulders back and down, feet flat on the floor. Grasp one end of a resistance band in each hand and hold it in front of your abdomen.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked into your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you stretch the resistance band to each side.
  • Slowly return to starting position and repeat 8-12 times.

NOTE: This exercise is excellent if you have rotator cuff pain or osteoarthritis.

2. Sitting walk

Sitting walking helps strengthen the legs and abs. This move will make you stronger for climbing stairs, lifting your legs to get dressed, and gaining mobility.

Muscles worked: Abdominals, hips and thighs

Execution :

  • Sit up straight with your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Grab the sides of the chair for extra support, if needed.
  • Contract your abdominals, then lift the right knee towards your chest while keeping the left foot on the ground. Keep your chest straight and your shoulders a little back (holding the sides of the chair should help you do this).
  • Slowly lower the right foot to the ground and repeat with the left leg. Try to repeat the movement 8 to 10 times on each side.

NOTE: To make the exercise more difficult by adding resistance, wrap a mini band around the thighs just above the knees.

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3. Sit-stand alternating

This exercise is essential to help seniors maintain hip and leg strength. This is what will allow you to get up and sit down easily, without the need for assistance. It will also prevent the loss of muscle mass in the thighs associated with aging and inactivity.

Muscles worked: Thighs, legs, hips and buttocks

Execution :

  • Sit up straight with your feet hip-width apart on the floor and your toes pointing forward.
  • Keeping your torso straight as in the previous exercises, try to stand up using your leg strength alone, keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground. If that's too difficult, place a chair in front of you, back facing you, and put your hands on top of the back to help you get up.
  • Sit with your knees bent and control the descent as much as possible. Don't drop into the chair.
  • Repeat as many times as possible up to 10 times.

NOTE: If you help yourself by leaning on the back of a chair at the beginning, try to progress until you do without it if your physical condition allows it.

4. Thigh abduction

This exercise with an elastic band works the outside of the hips and the buttocks, who often weaken from sitting too often. In addition, they are important muscles for walking.

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Muscles worked: Hips and Buttocks

Execution :

  • Sit at the edge of the chair and use a mini band around the thighs just above the knees. Place your feet together and grab the sides of the chair with both hands for support if needed.
  • Keeping your chest lifted and your feet together, spread your knees apart. Stop once you feel pressure in the gluteal muscles.
  • Bring your knees together with control.
  • Repeat 10 times if possible.

NOTE: If you have trouble with an elastic band, start by doing this exercise empty, without resistance.

It is in English, but this video shows you how to do it:

5. Bicep curl with elastic band

Doing bicep curls with a resistance band is an easy way to keep your arms strong for lifting everyday objects. This movement also helps maintain bone density in the upper body.

Depending on the type of resistance band used and its resistance, you can do this exercise one arm at a time or both at the same time. 

Muscles worked: Biceps and forearms

Execution :

  • Sit up straight with your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Place a resistance band under your feet and press your heels into the floor to keep it in place.
  • Grab one end of the band in one hand, palm up, and let your arms hang down at each side, elbows at your chest. Bring your hands towards the shoulders while pulling on the band.
  • Contract your biceps at the top before returning to the initial position while controlling the descent.
  • Repeat 8-12 times per arm.

NOTE: For this exercise, avoid round elastic tubes because they are difficult to hold under the feet when seated. If using an elastic band is too much for you, start with 2 small bottles of water.

6. Elastic Band Tricep Extension

The triceps are the largest of the arm muscles. But it is more and more difficult to use them as you get older because they are used to push and it is very difficult to do push-ups or bench press as you age or with a lack of mobility.

Among the exercises for the elderly, this one will help you work the triceps while sitting. Choose low resistance or water bottles so you don't hurt yourself.

elderly triceps exercises
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Muscles worked: Triceps

Execution :

  • Sit down with your feet together. Place a resistance band under your feet and check that it stays in place. Take one end of the band in each hand.
  • Lean your chest slightly forward, keeping your back as straight as possible and your shoulders straightened. If the position is a little difficult to hold, place a ball, cushion or large folded towel in front of your belly (as in the photo).
  • Bring the elbows bent at right angles back as high as possible, but without forcing.
  • Pull up on the band by stretching your arms backwards.
  • Bend the elbows as in the previous position while controlling the movement. This does one rep.
  • Repeat the arm extension 8 to 10 times if possible.
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NOTE: Do not force too much at first and blow out while stretching your arms backwards.


How to progress from seated exercises

The goal of chair exercises is to strengthen your muscles enough before adding standing exercises if your physical condition allows it. Indeed, there is a limit to what you can do while sitting, but it's better than total inactivity.

All types of exercise are good to do to improve your muscle tone and cardiovascular function. The important thing is that you are healthier no matter what.

Of course, to improve your balance, you will be limited by seated movements. However, you should understand that doing standing weight training is an additional risk factor. You should therefore ask your doctor before you start or get help from a loved one or a professional coach.

The advantage if you can progress with standing exercises is that you can also improve your bone density in your lower body.

By doing additional research on the Internet, I spotted a Youtube channel that presents exercises for 55 to 75 year olds. Among other things, you will find videos of the exercises I talk about in this article. The videos are in English, but the exercises are very well presented and you won't have to worry about understanding if you don't understand this language.

Exercises for the elderly: Conclusion

Once you feel more comfortable, work on transitioning to standing exercises if your health permits. You can even use a chair to help you balance while doing squats and lunges. Either way, you need to give yourself time to progress smoothly.

If you are motivated and fit to do more, you can discover 15 exercises to do with a chair at home. Be careful, however, to select only those that you can integrate without risk into your exercise program.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience, leave a comment below. THANK YOU !

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Last update on 2022-11-04 / Affiliate links / Some images are from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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