Don’t Just Sit There!!! – Chair Based Abdominal Exercises for Older Adults


Fitnazz is a community-supported website. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through our links. Learn more.

A lot of people, but mostly the older adults, spend most of their time in a sedentary lifestyle just sitting the whole afternoon and grabbing a handful of chocolates and chips while watching TV, not knowing the dangers inactivity and lack of exercise.

We often hear them say, “c’mon, I’m old and tired… let me rest and enjoy the remaining days of my life… it’s your turn to do all the work now.” Sounds convincing and strikingly fair, right?

We understand and we give in because we love them, but if we really care, we won’t allow them that!!!

Older adults are the most sedentary people on the planet, taking up so much of their daily hours sticking their butts on their seats and enjoying their moments, as they may say.

But the happier they’ll be the closest they’ll get to unhealthy living.

Sitting increases their risk of developing various health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, as well as the vague discomfort and pain in the butt after sitting for long hours… and not aesthetically pleasing, SITTING CAUSES BELLY BULGES!!!

Physical inactivity reduces calorie utilisation because of slower metabolism and eventually, fat accumulation usually concentrated around the tummy.

This body fat accumulation may be due to several factors such as dietary changes with higher intakes of saturated fats and sugars, hormonal changes, AND THE ALL- SEDENTARY SITTING!!!

Furthermore, abdominal muscle strength gradually decreases with ageing due to a condition known as sarcopenia, with rapid depreciation in the fifth decade and over in males and the seventh decade and over in females (Kubo, 1994).

The incidence of abdominal obesity in combination with sarcopenia is increasing in adults aged 65 years and older (Batsis & Villarreal, 2018).

The combination of physical inactivity due to sitting and excessive fat intake contributes to the appearance of poochy or bulgy tummy.

This may leave the oldies feeling weak when they stand and even when doing just about anything. This is because the strength of the midsection spreads to the whole periphery.

With a very strong core, the rest of the body will be stable and the benefits translate into daily living.

The energy that you put into your daily tasks comes from the total force generated from this point.

It greatly affects the performance of the limbs by providing a stable foundation for more efficient use and greater power output.

Sitting is such a bad habit when you just plant your butt in the chair and do nothing.

To break up these habits our grandparents do, therapist and fitness instructors developed abdominal exercises that make use of their beloved possession – their chairs.

The following chair-based exercises not only strengthen their whole body in general but target mainly the core muscles including the abdominals so that they’ll stand up more proud and fulfilled as they aged with a flatter tummy!!!

So… Don’t just sit there!!!


After engaging in exercises, grandpa and grandma may experience some whole body soreness, especially so that even the slightest effort can exert a great deal of discomfort as they’re old and even more as they’ve just returned to their active lives after having gotten through a prolonged intimate encounter with their seats.

Giving them back the favour that’s even for their own good is such a satisfaction and relief and treating them for a sports massage should ease off all of their aches and pains away.

Sports and remedial massage techniques, loosen up tight muscles and relax the body.

And for the old ones who spend a lot of their time sitting at home, it counteracts all the postural stresses that sitting inflicts, to sooth out the tension in the neck, shoulders and the lower back, as well as in the gluteus area.

Sports massage therapy can help alleviate some of the pains of many age-related conditions. Various methods of therapeutic and soothing stroking can stimulate the nervous system and blood circulation, which are two of the most defenceless systems of the body that feel the effects of ageing.

With regular sports massage, grandpa and grandma can experience an improved quality of life with increased energy levels to feel revived and healthier overall.

Core Stabilizing Abdominal Exercises



STARTING POSITION: Start by sitting up in a chair toward the end of the seat making sure your back is straight. Place your feet on the floor with legs slightly apart.


  1. With control, inhale then engage your lower abdominals. Exhale while lifting one knee towards the chest as you crunch upper body forward. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Inhale again while lowering the leg back on the floor. Repeat on the other leg.
  3. Start by doing 10 to15 repetitions on each leg for 3 sets. Take a short minute rest in between sets.


  • Keep the movement slow and controlled, especially on lowering the leg. o As this also exercises hip and thigh muscles, concentrate on engaging the abdominals.
  • Single leg/knee lifts contribute to the improvement in balance.




STARTING POSITION: Sit tall on the edge of a bench or sturdy chair, preferably with armrests, without leaning against the back. Both knees bent 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.


  1. Hold the armrests or grip the edges of the chair or bench for support. Lean back by rolling shoulders back to maintain the spine straight, keeping your low back in the neutral position.
  2. Inhale for two counts, then draw both knees up off the floor inward toward the chest as you exhale with engaged abdominals. Use your abs to pull your knees towards your shoulders, with your shoulders simultaneously moving towards your knees.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds before lowering the legs to the floor and moving your shoulders back to starting position.
  4. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions for one set, and complete three sets total, with 1minute rest in between sets.


  • A pillow or a rolled thick towel can be placed against the lower back area for added support and protection.
  • Avoid doing the exercise too quickly. Lower your knees slowly for more control.
  • Avoid rounding your lower back as you bring your knees to your chest.
  • Don’t use momentum to bring your knees towards your chest. All movement occurs with your hips and abs.



STARTING POSITION: Starting off sitting up straight in a chair with both feet flat on the floor and low back in the neutral position. Place one hand behind the head and the opposite arm stretched out to the side.


  1. Inhale, and then squeeze your abdominals when exhaling as you bend over to the stretched arm’s side (as if trying to touch the floor with the outstretched hand). Bend at the waist and avoid the body to twist or fall forward.
  2. Hold your abs tight for 3 to 5 seconds, inhale, and then return to the starting position.
  3. Do 10 to 15 reps on each side for 3 sets, keeping your feet flat on the floor the entire time. Allow 1 minute of rest before proceeding with the next set.


  • Remember not to let your chest fall forward. Keep your feet flat on the floor and pelvis and low back in the neutral position.
  • For a more strengthening routine, hold dumbbells in each hand as you bend side to side.
  • When straightening, move slowly for more control and engagement of the muscles.




STARTING POSITION: Start off sitting up straight in a chair or at the end of a flat bench without leaning back, with both feet flat on the ground about hipdistance apart.

Place hands lightly behind your head with elbows bent and pointing out toward the sides.

One may hold a ball directly in front of the abdomen with elbows bent so that the forearms are almost parallel to the floor or a stick placed behind the neck and across the shoulders.


  1. Keeping the pelvis steady, inhale then exhale while twisting your torso to one side as far as you comfortably can with engaged abdominals and keeping the head facing straight forward. Hold and squeeze the abdominals for 3 to 5 seconds.
  2. Inhale, and then return to center, keeping your hips stable. Twist to the other side following the same procedure.
  3. Continue twisting 10 to 15 reps on each side for 3 sets each, allowing 1minute rest in between sets.


  • Remember to keep your head facing straight forward while you twist.
  • Keep your abdominals engaged in twisting and your low back in the neutral position throughout.




STARTING POSITION: Sitting at the edge of the chair with hands clasped with each other by the right hip.


  1. While looking straight ahead, contract your abs and turn torso slightly to the right.
  2. Inhale for two counts, then exhale while rotating your torso to the left, raising your arm or the weight over to your left shoulder, and keeping your abdominals tight as possible.
  3. Inhale and then exhale while slowly rotating your torso to the right as you move your arms across your body to the outside of your right hip. Keep your abs contracted as you bring your arms to your right hip.
  4. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps, and then switch sides. Do 3 sets with 1minute rest in between sets.


  • To make it more a strengthening routine, take a dumbbell or medicine ball in your hands.
  • Keep your abs tense at all times.
  • Do not use your arms in creating the movement. Focus on using your abs in initiating the twist.
  • Do not round your back at any point in the exercise.
  • If you experience pain or discomfort in knees or lower back, stop the exercise.



STARTING POSITION: Position a chair against a wall so the chair is stable and won’t slide or move as you’re performing the plank. Stand straight and place the heels of your hands on the edge of the seat on both corners making sure that they are shoulder distance apart.


  1. Engage your core and step both feet backward until your body forms a straight slanting line from your heels to your head, keeping your arms straight and your hips aligned between your knees and your shoulders.
  2. Adjust the distance of your feet from the chair until you’re comfortable to hold the position. Keep your abdominals contracted to keep your body steady.
  3. Unlock the elbows so that they are directly under your shoulders. Keep your head relaxed and your gaze down the floor.
  4. Hold the position comfortably for 30 to 60 seconds before returning to standing position. You may pace yourself by keeping the hold in 30, 45 up to 60. Concentrate on drawing in your stomach towards your spine.
  5. Do this exercise for 3 to5 sets with 1minute rest in between sets.


  • It’s one of the best abdominal exercises for seniors strengthening the deep abdominals, especially the transversus abdominis.
  • Progress by performing it on the floor.
  • Keep your body in proper posture while holding the plank for effectiveness, avoiding arching your back, sagging the hips, and tilting your head up.
  • Breathe throughout the holding or plank.


Kubo A. (1994). Nihon Ronen Igakkai zasshi. Japanese journal of geriatrics, 31(7), 525–531.
Batsis, J. A., & Villareal, D. T. (2018). Sarcopenic obesity in older adults: aetiology, epidemiology and treatment strategies. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 14(9), 513–537.

you might also like...

[wp_show_posts id="4295"]

Leave a Comment