5 Easy-to-Do Pilates Chair Workouts Seniors Can Do to Improve Mobility


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With a well-trained body accompanied by flexible muscles and joints, our seniors can easily perform day-to-day tasks and enjoy getting around the house by themselves.

But how can our seniors stay physically active when their bodies can no longer handle heavy-duty workouts?

Pilates is excellent for them since it provides numerous benefits despite being a low-intensity exercise.

Discover five easy-to-do pilates chair workouts for seniors to help them improve their mobility and considerations before starting pilates.

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Is Pilates Good Exercise for Seniors?

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a low-impact exercise focusing on strengthening all-body muscles while improving flexibility, endurance, and postures. Additionally, pilates is proven to have high effectiveness in reducing intrusive thoughts and depression, thereby providing greater gains of positive emotions over time.


Is Pilates Good Exercise for Seniors?

The answer is yes. Since it’s suitable for people of all ages, genders, and physical abilities, pilates is an excellent exercise form for seniors to stay fit and lead healthy aging.

Most importantly, seniors practicing pilates can significantly avoid the risk of falling and tripping with an improved sense of balance since this form of exercise increases stability, flexibility, and leg strength.


Pilates Chair Workouts: The Benefits

In addition to a better quality of life, many studies have pointed out that numerous benefits derived from performing pilates can be relevant, especially in later years. Moreover, pilates chair workouts only require a stool, which is readily available anywhere. Below are some of the benefits of pilates:

  • Improved Bone Density: Seniors are more prone to osteoporosis as they age, making day-to-day activities unsafe for most of them. Essentially, doing pilates encourages bone mass formation, which can significantly slow down bone deterioration and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Increased Core Strength: Much like other types of workout, which aims to train endurance and core muscles involved in daily movements, your seniors might find that they become stronger after performing pilates.
  • Revamped Posture: As the years go by, you may notice that your parents’ posture has changed for the worse due to structural imbalances, such as hunching over the desk or stooping over the phone. Pilates is great for fixing posture since it emphasizes aligning an individual’s entire torso, thereby revamping overall posture.
  • Disease Prevention: Engaging in physical activities prevents chronic health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension. However, seniors may be susceptible to injuries when doing high-intensity workouts. As a result, pilates is an exceptionally great workout program for seniors to slow the progression of various age-related health problems.
  • Enhanced Lung Function: By integrating deep breathing into lessons, pilates enables your seniors to supply their lungs with an adequate amount of oxygen with every breath. Consequently, the respiratory system is working at its peak. Sufficient oxygen circulation throughout the body lowers your parents’ blood pressure and enhances lung function.
  • Socializing Opportunities: Whether your parents take an online or on-set pilates course, pilates classes are perfect for socializing and making new friends. As a result, they can avoid feeling lonely and isolated when you are away from them.


MORE TO EXPLORE: 6 Easy Upper Body Stretches For Seniors


Pilates Chair Workouts: Things to Consider

Here are a few considerations for you and your older family members before doing this exercise:

  • Exercise Gear: Help your parents find a comfortable chair that will allow them to perform seated pilates at ease. The ideal chair should be sturdy and free of the armrest for optimal movement.
  • Exercise Outfits: Remind them to dress in breathable clothes and comfortable footwear.
  • Stay Hydrated: It’s essential to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the workout to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes.
  • Sufficient Nutrition Intake: Focusing on loading nutrition before working out helps your parents have energy during the session and minimize muscle damage. The foods should be rich in carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Alternatively, drinking protein shakes and pre-workout supplements is the easiest, quickest way to get enough nutrition in one take. However, not every workout supplement is appropriate for seniors since most of these products contain added sugars, which do more harm than good. Please pay attention to the ingredient list and consult their doctor first before starting a supplementation regime for them.
  • Self Awareness: Exercise is beneficial, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your parents should risk pushing themselves to their limits, as they are more likely to be injured than younger generations. In this case, explain to them that it’s completely OK to rest and start over on the next day as soon as they experience any discomfort while performing pilates chair workouts.
  • Medical Condition: Each senior has a unique level of physical ability, fitness goals, and tolerance. Most importantly, it’s best to talk with their doctors about their medical condition to ensure their safety.


5 Easy-to-do Pilates Chair Workouts for Senior Beginners

Pilates chair workouts or seated pilates are the safest way to stay active for seniors undergoing critical physical changes.


Seated Side Bend


This type of pilates chair workout helps stretch the muscles lining the rib cage, improve balance, strengthen external and internal obliques, and tone the waistline.

Seated Side Bend Instruction:

  • Step 1: Sit in a straight position with both arms rested sideways.
  • Step 2: Raise your right arm over your head while placing your left arm on your lap.
  • Step 3: Gently lean to the left side with your head tilting in the same direction.
  • Step 4: Assume the former position and breathe out.
  • Step 5: Repeat on the other side and perform 3-5 times on each side.


Seated Marching


Fundamentally, seated marching aims to create stability and flexibility on the hips and prevent stumbling while walking. By mimicking daily activities, such as marching and walking, this form of pilates chair workout helps your parents step up and down stairs and lift their legs up and down comfortably.

Seated Marching Instruction:

  • Step 1: Sit straight back and place your arms sideways or on your hips.
  • Step 2: Start marching by lifting your legs up and down as if you are walking up and down stairs.
  • Step 3: Remember to bring your legs as high as possible.
  • Step 4: Perform 20-30 seconds of marches.


Seated Shoulder Rolls


Seated shoulder rolls are a beneficial remedy if your parents experience neck tension. Moreover, your parents can use this type of workout to set their bodies up for upcoming exercises, similar to a warm-up pose.

Seated Shoulder Rolls Instruction:

  • Step 1: Sit in a straight-up position and move closer to the front edge of the chair.
  • Step 2: Use a pillow to support your back.
  • Step 3: Relax your shoulders while placing your hands on the laps.
  • Step 4: Move your shoulders to the back and start rolling gently.
  • Step 5: Repeat 3-5 times.


Ankle Pumps


Pilates chair workouts like this help to support your parents’ ankles and feet since they play a crucial role in day-to-day activities, including walking and standing.

Ankle Pumps Instruction:

  • Step 1: Position yourself in an upright position with both arms placed at your sides.
  • Step 2: Extend and spread out your legs in front of you.
  • Step 3: Start pointing your toes toward your shins with your soles pressing into the floor.
  • Step 4: Keep the pose for 3 seconds and flex your feet.
  • Step 5: Returning to the starting position.
  • Step 6: Repeat another leg.


Arm Stretch


Arm stretch is an easy-to-do pilates chair workout that enables your parents to gain greater freedom of movement when they need to use their arms for a wide range of daily activities. Another perk of stretching your arms is that it helps prevent tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome and relieves neck and back soreness.

Arm Stretch Instruction:

  • Step 1: Sit in an upright position.
  • Step 2: Grab your left shoulder with your right hand.
  • Step 3: Use your free left hand to grip just above the elbow of your right arm.
  • Step 4: Gently pull your right arm across the body until feeling light tension.
  • Step 5: Maintain the stretching position for 30 seconds.
  • Step 6: Release and repeat the same step for the other side.
  • Step 7: Repeat 2-3 times on each side.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many times a week should I practice pilates chair workouts? Pilates is highly safe and low impact, so your parents can practice seated pilates almost every day. However, if your parents are new to pilates, they may want to start with a schedule of 2-3 times per week and gradually increase the frequency if they feel up to it.

Can seniors with limited mobility benefit from pilates? Since seated pilates is geared towards seniors with frail legs and fragile joints, it can significantly benefit seniors with limited mobility. The most important thing is not to push yourself too hard. If possible, reach out to a pilates coach for personalized lessons that helps you achieve significant gains of motion and mobility when doing pilates.

Does pilates support weight loss? Despite its high effectiveness in muscle toning and posture improvement, pilates might not help you lose weight since it doesn’t burn as many calories as other high-intensity exercises. Yet, sticking to a healthy diet abundant with lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables and engaging in low-intensity cardio exercises can help your parents achieve their goals.


Stay Fit, Stay Healthy at 12 Oaks Communities

At 12 Oaks Communities, we are dedicated to providing a homelike atmosphere and arranging fun, healthy self-improvement activities for all residents. In addition to having a robust community, 12 Oaks and our dedicated staff provide outstanding, around-the-clock care to ensure a safe, worry-free environment.


If you have questions about pilates chair workouts for seniors, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to book a scheduled personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 


Are you searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour.

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