arm and core exercises in chair

Are you concerned about how to exercise if you have poor balance or cannot get up and down from the floor easily? This article offers some exercise solutions for you!

To prevent muscle atrophy as we age, it is important to continue to activate our muscles even if we are not able to move around a lot. I recommend this short routine as a movement break.

Find Your Sitting Posture

You will need a towel, yoga strap, belt, or tie.

The unfortunate thing about chairs today is that most of them encourage us to slouch and sit on our sacrum. The sacrum is the triangular shaped bone that forms the link between our spine and tailbone. Sitting on our sacrum is one of the culprits in low back pain and SI joint pain.

To find your ideal sitting posture, start by finding your sitting bones. Those are the bony protrusions at the bottom of your pelvis. Rock side to side in your chair and back and forth a bit. You should be able to locate those bony landmarks.

Now that you have found them, try sitting right on top of them. Push down through your feet as you lengthen the top of your head to the ceiling. Do not reach your nose to the ceiling, but rather, think of the back of your head getting taller.

Find 360-Degree Breathing

Now that you have your sitting posture, place your hands on your lower abdomen. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Notice your belly move out into your hands on your inhale.

On the next breath, see if you can make that expansion happen in your ribcage instead of your belly. If this is extremely difficult, do not be discouraged. Just having this new awareness is the perfect place to start.

Given that you are aware of the fact that you can move your inhale into your ribcage, try practicing your breathing this way.

Imagine that your chest is full of little holes, and as you inhale, air flows into your lungs through all those holes. The air fills your lungs as if they were a sponge. The sponge of your lungs expands into the ribcage and the bones of your ribcage move outward. 

Practice this as often as it occurs to you. It’s a great little workout for your ribcage as well as your internal pressure system. Over time, you will notice that you have a more evenly distributed inhale – and that will help you with core stability and strength.

Core Warm-up

Grab a towel or strap and hold each end. Pull the strap back across the front of your upper shins or your knees while you grow your spine taller. Make sure you exhale as you pull the strap. Remain tall in your seat and exhale as if you are blowing out 100 birthday candles while you pull on the strap.

Do you notice the backs of your arms turning on? If not, try having your thumbs forward and your pinky fingers pointing behind you and try again. Do this exercise 6 to 8 times.

Now let’s do a little walk with the hips! You will not be leaving the chair, but you will shimmy your hips forward and backward in your seat. Remember to stay tall and keep your spine straight as you move your right sitting bone forward and then your left.

Return your right sitting bone and then your left. Next time reverse that order. Keep going back and forth without tucking your tail or arching your low back.

Working Your Arms

The next exercise is called pull-aparts. Take the ends of your towel or strap and hold them directly in front of your chest. If holding your arms parallel to the ground at chest level hurts your shoulders or neck, just hold your hands lower.

You will have your hands in an overgrip on the strap. Pull the ends of the band apart 6 times. Use an exhale and grow tall with each pull. Reverse your grip to underhand and repeat the exercise. Where do you feel each one on your arms?

Let’s keep going with the Bow and Arrow exercise. Imagine that your strap or towel is a bow with an arrow in it. While holding your towel, move your left hand to about under your left armpit and your right hand out to the right and a bit forward of you.

There is not a right or wrong way for your arm and hand placement. Switch from side to side and see if you can find a rhythm of right to left and find the positioning that feels good in your body. Your arms can be as high or low as you want. This is about the movement, not about how it looks.

Put your towel to the side and pick up your block, ball, or any object that you can comfortably hold in one hand at a time. Hold the object in your left hand and pass it to your right hand in front of you. Be curious and see if you can take the object behind your back and pass it to your right hand.

If this is not possible, it’s ok. Pass the block from hand to hand in front of you. Maybe see about holding the object higher or lower or changing the speed of the transitions.

Do this for one minute at a time followed by a 30-second rest and another minute of activity. It is your choice to pass the object behind you or in front of you.

When you are done, put your object down and let your hands come to your lap. This is the end of your upper body workout in the chair. At this time, take a moment to notice your breathing. Can you focus on breathing into all of the lobes of your lungs as if they were a sponge?

Fill the entire spongy lobes of your lungs and slowly blow the air out as if blowing out 100 birthday candles. Repeat this activity 4 times and then return your breathing to normal.

Take your right ear toward your right shoulder and breathe. Slowly take your head back to center. Take your left ear to your left shoulder and breathe again, then slowly return to center. Repeat this 2 more times per each side.

Notice your arms and torso. Hopefully, you feel more energized and alert.

If you enjoyed this mini-workout in a chair, join me next month for a leg workout in a chair.

Are you unable to keep your balance when standing up? Do you feel more comfortable sitting in a chair? Do you do any exercises in sitting position? Which ones are your favorites? Please share with the community!