Here's Why You Should Make Seated Exercises Part of Your Daily Fitness Routine
What comes to mind when you think of exercise? Perhaps you associate it with lifting heavy weights in the gym or a fast-paced fitness class.
Yet, there are plenty of other ways to get the benefits of exercise without vigorous physical activity. Seated exercise – done with just a regular chair – is a great way to stay physically active. Low-impact and easy to do almost anywhere, seated exercises can help increase movement throughout the day, while lowering your risk of injury or discomfort.
Exercise scientist and physiotherapist Melanie McAuliffe says that so many of the exercises you might think of doing at the gym can be similarly done on a chair at home. Things like leg extensions, bicep curls, overhead press and even rowing all involve sitting down and can all be replicated at home, with some basic equipment.
Melanie, who is also a pain management expert, explains that the biggest benefit of chair exercises is that it gives you a stable base.
“Sitting in a chair, you have a stable base so you’re in a safer position. And if you have that stable base what happens is that you can concentrate more on just working one joint, one muscle group at a time.
“If you’re doing a bicep curl and you’re standing up you’ve got to think about how you’re holding yourself and if your pelvis is in the right position. If the weight gets heavier or it gets more difficult, it introduces too much postural sway. But sitting down, you’ve got more awareness of your body and can stay more grounded.”
Seated exercises are also good for people who may be getting over injury or experiencing pain. People with arthritis or similar conditions are generally encouraged to carry out small, regular and lightweight exercises throughout the day to aid in recovery.
A key benefit of seated exercises is that it can be done almost anywhere and for as long as you want. Rather than having to find time for an exercise class or fitness session, you can do small movements amongst your regular daily activities.
One way to make sure you’re doing those regular exercises is by making use of habit stacking. This is where you tie in a habit you want to create with something you already do regularly. So for example, you could do seated arm exercises during the ad breaks while watching your favourite show. Add on a five minute seated leg exercise session every time you have a cup of tea. Or do some core stability exercises before picking up your phone to scroll Facebook.
This way you’re tying in small seated exercise sessions with activities you enjoy and do daily.
Michelle also explains that, while seated exercises are great for people with limited mobility because they can be very low impact, you can also increase the difficulty to really challenge yourself. Making use of weights, resistance bands and pedal machines can increase the intensity of your exercises.
“The thing I really want to get across is that chair exercises can go from being quite easy to really difficult. Just because you don’t have to stand to do it doesn’t make it passive,” says Melanie.
“One of the hardest exercises you can do, which will lift your heart rate, is actually the hand pedal machine. It’s such a massively demanding exercise. And working out your upper body will generally be more challenging for your heart rate than using your legs. So it’s such a good exercise if you’re looking to get fitter.”
You should speak with your GP or health professional before starting any new exercise routine. Be aware of your limitations and build up your time and intensity slowly.
Recommended products for seated exercises
Build both leg and arm strength and improve your cardiovascular fitness with the Aspire Digital Pedal Exerciser. Easily switch between the foot pedal and the hand crank. The digital display allows you to track and set your time and resistance.
Hand weights are a great complement to your seated exercise. These dumbbells come in a variety of weights from 0.5kg up to 4.0kg so you can increase the weight as your strength and mobility improves.
Therabands are lightweight, portable and simple to use, making them a convenient option for seated exercises. These resistance bands come in a variety of colours and resistance levels to suit different fitness levels.