Exercises From Your Chair

The National Institutes of Health recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, including stretching, at least five days per week, but you can accomplish this in short spurts throughout the day. Chair exercises can help meet that goal and often are recommended for people with mobility or balance issues or for people recovering from injuries. They also are a good idea if you’re desk-bound in front a computer all day, and they will help improve circulation, flexibility and muscle strength, with no additional equipment required.

Circulation Booster

This exercise boosts circulation and also improves coordination. Hold your arms at a 90-degree angle in front of you while sitting tall. March in place at a moderate pace by raising each knee in turn, as high as you can, while swinging the opposite arm, as if you were walking. Continue for at least 30 seconds each time.

Jumping Jacks

Make sure you have a stable chair, and push back from any desk or table in front of you. Sit tall in your chair, and place your feet on the floor so they are flat and wide apart. Lift both feet at the same time, cross them in the air like a pair of scissors, and then place them back on the floor with one foot in front of the other. Lift your legs back to the starting position, then repeat by starting with the other foot in front this time.

Shoulder Stretches

Shoulder stretches are particularly helpful if you have tense neck and shoulder muscles from reading or bending over a desk. Lift your right shoulder, then back, then down and around, as if drawing a circle in the air, for at least five repetitions. Then do the same exercise with the other shoulder. After that, move both shoulders straight up at the same time toward the ears, as if shrugging.

Trunk Twists

While sitting tall, keep both thighs firmly on the seat, then place your right hand around the back of the chair while placing your other hand on the opposite knee. Lengthen your torso by straightening your spine, and turn your head and shoulders gradually around toward the back hand. Return to the starting position, pause a few seconds, and repeat the exercise with the other side. Keep your shoulders down, and make the movements as large as possible within the range of your flexibility level.

Body Stretch

Seated toe touches strengthen and flex your entire body with a full range of motion, even if you can’t quite reach your toes. Sit on the chair with your legs slightly apart and your feet flat on the floor. Then, gently and slowly, lean forward over your legs, sliding your arms down your legs. Avoid rounding your back, but lean your chest over your straight legs, keeping your back flat. Return to the upright position–again, slowly and gently–and be sure to breathe regularly throughout the exercise.

About this Author

Bonnie Vanaman is a freelance writer who has written on a wide variety of subjects for various newspapers and national magazines. Vanaman worked for Discovery Channel Online, including the Health and Travel Channels, for more than a decade. She holds a degree in musicology from Florida State University and is a member of American Independent Writers.