If you have difficulty standing or walking, it needn't mean exercise is out of the question. This ultimate
beginner seated program is a perfect start.
We all know that being physically active is good for us, but not everyone can take part in activities like walking, cycling or aerobics classes. If that’s the case for you, but you want to keep active, then chair-based exercise could be just what you’re looking for.
You can use these exercises if you have trouble getting up and about, or even if you just want a change of activity on days you can’t get outdoors.
If you have a health condition, check with your GP before you start. There are specific exercise programmes for people with a heart condition that your GP, cardiologist or cardiac rehab team can help you with.
Chair-based exercise can be done at home or in small groups and is easy to fit in to your daily routine. Set realistic goals for yourself. For example, you could aim to do ten to 20 minutes every other day for two weeks. Then, if you achieve that and don’t get too tired, you could plan to do more or carry on for a few more weeks and then reassess your goal.
Even a small amount of activity can be a tremendous boost to our wellbeing and help you to tone and strengthen. So why not give it a go? You might be surprised at just how good it makes you feel.
The six rules of chair-based exercise
Always use a strong chair, preferably with armrests and not too soft. When you sit in the chair, your thighs should be parallel with the floor.
Keep your arm and leg movements steady, as this will help avoid muscle and joint strain. In the early stages, move your arms or legs one at a time. As you get more skilful, you can combine arm and leg movements in the same exercise.
Warm up and cool down. When you start moving, the blood supply to the heart muscle needs a few minutes to reach optimal flow. Any combination of these exercises can be done gently to warm up or cool down, while you can do them more vigorously for the main part of your exercise session.
Don’t exercise too hard. Aim for moderate-intensity exercise, which means you are slightly breathless and perhaps warmer than usual. Some days or weeks may be better than others, so adjust the intensity of the exercise to how you’re feeling.
Never hold your breath while exercising. You’d be surprised just how often we forget to breathe when lifting our arms and legs or staying balanced.
Keep your arm exercise below head height. This means the heart doesn’t have to pump so hard against gravity and will help to reduce breathlessness.