Sitting Exercises

Publication Date: 
By: Alere Staff

Staying active as you age is important to your health, but at times it can be difficult to maintain a regular schedule. However, having a carefully structured, moderate physical activity regimen has shown to help your body manage as it ages.1 No matter how old you are it is never too late for you to start a healthy exercise routine. Doing so can more than just get you moving. Research has shown that exercise and physical activity can help in many ways including:2
  • Maintaining and improving your physical strength and fitness.
  • Improving your body’s ability to perform even simple, everyday activities.
  • Improving your balance.
  • Managing or improving diseases like diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.    
  • Reducing feelings of depression and improving your overall well-being.

Starting exercise routines can sometimes be simple and you want to make sure you do not push yourself too hard on the first few sessions.3 To keep your balance, starting with exercises that can be done in a sitting position or with chairs can be the best first step.

Sitting Exercises

Many exercises that can be done with the assistance of an exercise ball or a chair can help to alleviate aches and pains as well as tone your muscles and increase your flexibility. If you are unsure about your balance on an exercise ball, these exercises can also be done with a sturdy chair. Listed are some exercises that you can do with the assistance of a chair:4

  • Checking Your Posture: While seated, put all of your attention on keeping your posture straight. This can help tone the many muscles in your torso. 
  • Seated Jumping Jacks: Just like the title sounds, these are jumping jacks while in a chair or ball to ease the impact on your joints. Sitting on the edge of your chair, you open and close your arms and legs as you would normally do with a jumping jack.
  • Ab Twists: Having strong abdominal muscles can help in reducing aches and pains you feel in your lower back and hips. Sitting tall once more on the edge of your chair, inhale and squeeze (or flex) your ab muscles lightly. Then, without relaxing, exhale slowly, squeezing your abs in tighter and turning your upper body to the right. Inhale and then twist back to the center position. Repeat this movement on the left side.
  • Seated Leg Extensions: Extend your legs forward without curling your back to strengthen your thigh and hip muscles. If you are able to keep your foot flexed this will further engage the muscles in both your shins and ankles. Leg strength is one of the more important things to maintain as you age.3
  • Seated Press-Ups: This exercise is a way to include your shoulder and triceps without putting pressure on your joints. Sitting on the edge of your chair, keep your arms at your sides and your palms over the edge of your seat. Press down with your arms, like you are trying to lift yourself off the chair without actually doing so. Hold and then release.
  • Sitting Elbow Curls: These can help to open your chest and shoulder muscles.
  • Arm Circles: While sitting with straight posture, raise your arms straight out at your sides and rotate in alternate directions. These can increase your flexibility and improve your posture.

Exercising doesn’t have to start with a trip to your local gym, but no matter how simple the exercises may seem, remember to first seek advice from your physician. Always be aware of how your body feels. If anything hurts, is uncomfortable or causes pain, stop. If you exercise alone, be even more vigilant about signs of distress your body may give. These signs include sharp pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or tightness in the chest.3,4


  1. Cire, B. NIA. Structured physical activity program can help maintain mobility in vulnerable older people. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute on Aging. May 27, 2014.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute on Aging. Featured Health Topic: Exercise. 2017. Retrieved from the website:
  3. Schwartz, S. 5 Easiest, Most Effective Exercises to Do at Home. 2047. Retrieved from the website:
  4. Schwartz, S. 8 Easy Exercises You Can Do Sitting Down. 2017. Retrieved from the website: