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What are Chair Aerobics?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Chair aerobics are seated exercises designed to raise the heart rate and get oxygen flowing throughout the body. People in wheelchairs as well as elderly persons or those recovering from an illness, or who aren't able to stand for long periods of time during workouts, often participate in chair exercises. These may be done informally alone or in a group class taught in person by an instructor.

Like regular standing aerobics, as well as the versions done in water, the chair varieties of these exercises are typically done to upbeat music. Just as the other forms of aerobics feature alternating arm and leg raises as well as cross-overs and bending to one side, chair aerobics also often employs these types of movements. A seated aerobic routine may also include more unique moves such as stretching the arms toward the bottom sides of the chair in a straight or crisscross fashion.

Woman exercising
Woman exercising

Some prenatal aerobics classes may feature chair exercises especially for women who are in the latter months of pregnancy, as it may be difficult for them to stand for an entire fitness class. Chair aerobics can be effective exercises for people who tend to be either unsteady on their feet or don't have enough energy to stand during an entire exercise routine. For people in wheelchairs or those who are confined to a hospital bed, standing for aerobic exercise isn't usually an option. Sitting and moving the arms and legs not only adds to overall fitness by increasing heart rate and moving oxygen through body, it also can help keep the limbs from becoming weaker from inactivity.

Even healthy people who participate in regular standing types of aerobics may do chair versions when they're feeling a little sick or are confined to a small space such as in a hotel room. Obese people who become too out of breath when standing and exercising may also benefit from the chair type of aerobics. Chair aerobics movements can be improvised and created by people on the spot as they listen to music or even watch television. The stretches, raises and crossing over movements of the arms and legs don't have to be complex. Like other exercise routines, people should start chair versions of aerobics with slower warm-up stretches as well as end the sessions with calming cool down movements.

Even five minutes each of warm ups and cool downs with a ten or 15 minute main, more vigorous, chair aerobic session in between can be a good health benefit. This routine should be repeated about three time a week to start, with a doctor's permission. If medically allowed, chair aerobics could then be gradually increased to five or more days per week.

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