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Seated exercises for the elderly

seated exercisesPhoto: Shutterstock

These gentle exercises are great for improving strength, flexibility and co-ordination. Additionally, these exercises can all be performed while seated, making it suitable for seniors with restricted mobility.

Before starting, ensure that you are sitting on a stable chair. You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at right angles. Avoid chairs with arms or wheels to prevent accidental injury.

Aim to increase the repetitions of each exercise gradually over time and repeat them at least twice a week.

1. Chest Stretch
Improves posture
A. Sit upright and ensure your back is away from the chair. Relax your shoulders and pull them back and down. Next, extend your arms out to the side such that they are not too close to your body.
B. Slowly and gently push your chest forward and upwards until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold this position for five to ten seconds and repeat the exercise five times.

2. Upper Body Twist
Develops and maintain flexibility in the upper back
A. Sit upright and place your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and place your hands on your shoulders.
B. Keeping your hips still, twist your upper body to the left as far as comfortable and hold this position for five seconds.
C. Repeat this for the right side and do this stretch five times on each side.

3. Hip Marching
Strengthens hips and thigh; improves flexibility
A. Sit upright and ensure your back is away from the chair. For better stability, grip onto the sides of the chair.
B. Lift your left leg upwards, as far as you feel comfortable, keeping the knee in its bent position. Slowly place your foot down with control.
C. Repeat the move with your right leg and do five lifts with each leg.

4. Neck Stretch
Good for loosening tight neck muscles
A. Sit upright and look straight ahead. With your right hand, hold down your left shoulder.
B. In this position, tilt your head slowly to the right and hold the stretch for five seconds.
C. Repeat this for the left side, before doing the stretch three times on each side.

5. Ankle Stretch
Improves ankle flexibility and lowers the risk of developing blood clots
A. Sit upright and grip onto the sides of the chair. Straighten and raise your left leg, ensuring its foot is off the floor.
B. With your leg in this position, point your toes away from you.
C. Next, bend your ankle such that your toes point back towards you. Repeat the movement five times for each foot and do two sets of these.