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Benefits of Chair Aerobics for Seniors

written by: Living Well Yoga and Fitness • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 10/27/2010

Regular aerobic exercise is important for seniors. However, balance concerns and joint pain can create limitations. Classes taught at traditional fitness centers are often too vigorous for those over sixty five. Chair aerobics can be the answer. Even seated, you can get many of the same benefits.

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    Chair Aerobics Takes Pressure Off of Painful Joints

    Seniors often have joint pain due to arthritis, joint replacements, loss of cartilage and may have injuries as the result of a fall. All of the above can make traditional standing aerobics too painful.

    While water aerobics is another option, it can also pose a challenge for those who have difficulty dressing. If your students have arthritis in their hands, trying to pull off a wet bathing suit and getting dressed can be too time and energy consuming. However, performing aerobics while seated will allow seniors to get a good workout.

    Since they are seated, they are not bearing weight on painful joints. Another concern is the balance problems that can happen with age. If a potential student is at a high risk for falls, standing aerobics is not a good option. Participating in aerobics while seated provides a much safer option.

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    The Benefits of Chair Aerobics are the Same as Traditional Aerobics.

    If the seated workout is at a high enough intensity, there are multiple benefits of doing regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise burns calories which can help in weight loss and in maintaining a healthy weight.

    Since your heart is a muscle, like any muscle in your body when it is exercised appropriately, it becomes stronger and more efficient. Your heart muscle is responsible for pumping blood throughout the entire body. Aerobic exercise works your heart and makes it better at pumping and delivering the blood and the oxygen and nutrients it carries to your body. As your heart muscle becomes more conditioned your blood pressure and heart rate will be lower, because your heart does not have to work as hard as it did when you were deconditioned.

    Your lungs also get a good workout during aerobic activity. As your lungs become stronger, you will find that your breathing is easier and that you do not get as out of breath when climbing stairs or going about your everyday activities. Regular aerobic exercise can also help to lower your cholesterol levels, improve mood and feelings of wellbeing and manage stress.

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    Chair Aerobics Does Not Address Osteoporosis

    One downside of chair aerobics is that since it is not weight bearing it does not address the bone loss that occurs with osteoporosis. On a regular basis, our bones are constantly being broken down and replaced with new bone.

    In the case of osteoporosis, our bones are being broken down faster then they are being rebuilt. This leads to weak and frail bones that can break easily.

    Along with a proper diet, lifestyle modifications and medication, weight bearing exercise is necessary to help keep your bones strong. When you are doing weight bearing activity such as walking or dancing, you are asking your bones to support your weight. This pressure on the bones heps to stimulate bone growth.

    With chair aerobics, since you are seated, your bones are not bearing your weight. If you have osteoporosis talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what exercise you can do to make sure you are keeping your bones strong.

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    Additional Resources

    Visit the websites below for more information on heart health, proper exercise for seniors, and osteoporosis.

    American Heart Association/Benefits of Regular Exercise

    National Institutes of Health/Exercise for Older Adults

    National Osteoporosis Foundation/Exercise for Healthy Bones

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