Best Pilates Chair Exercises for Seniors: Co-ordinate Your Body, Mind and Spirit

“I went from being so physical to then not being able to move, and the only thing I was allowed to do was Pilates, which became one of my favorite things. Not only is it a really wonderful form of exercise because of how it rehabilitates the body, but it’s really been transformative.”
– Said Jennifer Aniston, the star of the famous sitcom “Friends,” after realizing the benefits of Pilates chair exercises for seniors and other people. 

Despite its long history, Pilates is a new concept to many people. The lack of Pilates knowledge and know-how prevents a lot of seniors with limited mobility from reaping the many benefits Pilates has to offer. In fact, its origins can be traced back to Germany during World War I. It was Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) who had created it in the 1920s for rehabilitation. He found the Pilates Method to be the most effective method for recovering from injuries and preventing their recurrence. Gradually, the method became known to a wider audience. Yet, many people are unaware of the benefits of Pilates chair exercises for seniors. Thus, let’s shed some light on the fantastic exercise discipline called Pilates!

What’s better yoga or Pilates? Pilates and yoga are excellent exercises for seniors. Due to its low-impact exercises and subtle movements, Pilates is an excellent exercise for older adults and those recovering from injuries. Pilates can take many forms. It is mainly down to the equipment used that differentiates them.

Benefits of Pilates for Seniors

For anyone of any age, regular exercise is crucial. However, it is even more critical for seniors. A chronic condition, such as arthritis or recent surgery, can result in inactivity, causing someone to lose strength and mobility. Pilates is an excellent balance exercise for seniors. If you’re thinking about what Pilates exercise is good for, the list below can help you. In addition to improved flexibility and posture, the health benefits of Pilates are as follows:


  • Offers Balance and stability.
  • Builds strong muscles.
  • Develops core strength.
  • Increases energy level.
  • Makes you relaxed and manages the stress
  • Decreases the effects of debilitating medical conditions.
  • Prevents injury and rehabs muscle imbalances.
  • Prevents and treats back pain.
Pilates is one of the exercises that can wake up your body and brain, and it can Increase mind and body awareness.

Is Pilates Good for the Elderly?

Pilates chair exercises

Yes, each person is taught Pilates according to their needs, and each exercise re-evaluates periodically to ensure that they are appropriate. From elite athletes to people with limited mobility to pregnant women to unfit people, everyone can do Pilates. Pilates emphasizes posture, balance, breathing, and core strength. Increasing coordination and stability is essential for seniors, as it can improve function, including standing and walking balance. Pilates increases both core and leg strength and flexibility, which positively affects balance. Pilates is among the exercises for older adults to stay fit and healthy.

If you’re wondering what’s better, yoga or Pilates? You can also read about yoga for seniors.

Can Seniors with a Limited Range of Motion Do Pilates?

Pilates exercises for seniors can be done in a chair or mat, and many can be modified for those with limited mobility. Within Pilates studios nationwide, mat and chair Pilates exercises for seniors are both exceptionally common. The best thing about Pilates is that it can meet your body wherever it is. You can modify your Pilates practice to accommodate a limited range of motion. It’s important not to force things. Utilize your breath as a means of helping you move slowly and deliberately.

Can You Lose Weight by Doing Pilates?

Maintaining a healthy weight and weight loss for the elderly can be achieved by Pilates. Ensure you eat healthy foods from trending diets for seniors, such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For weight loss in the elderly, you may also want to try cardio exercise such as walking, running, or cycling, in addition to Pilates.

Pilates for Elderly Beginners

Pilates chair exercises

These Pilates moves focus on core strength, flexibility, and body tone for elderly beginners. It would be best to have a yoga mat or a Pilates mat to perform these exercises.

Note: If you experience pain or discomfort during your Pilates workout, stop what you are doing immediately.

Toe Stretch

Stretching the toes improves flexibility and mobility.

Toe stretch instruction:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift and spread your toes.
  3. Lay your toes back on the floor.
  4. Repeat three times.


Squats are great exercise for seniors. Performing squats will strengthen your flexibility in your knees, glutes, and calves.

Squat Instructions:

  1. Stand up straight and put your hands by your side.
  2. Inhale and bend your knees; bring your arms forward while bending.
  3. Exhale and stand up, bring your arms back to your side as standing up.
  4. Repeat five times.

Balance Breathing

It is an excellent exercise for balance and can open your chest.

Balance Breathing Instruction:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Take your arms out to the side.
  3. Inhale and rise onto the toes.
  4. Exhale and lower your arms and put your toes back on the floor.
  5. Repeat three times.

Single-Leg Circles

Single Leg Stretch is one of the original Pilates movements found in a mat Pilates sequence called the “stomach series.” In addition to strengthening the core, it promotes a stretch of the back leg and hip flexors in a fluid and controlled motion.

Single-Leg Circles Instruction:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Hold one leg up with the toe pointing upwards.
  3. Circulate your leg in circles, starting by crossing your body.
  4. Keep your navel pulled in toward your spine and squeeze your leg like you’re pulling the skin and muscles tighter to the bone.
  5. Then switch legs and perform four circles in each direction.


Pilates chair exercises

You can use this exercise to strengthen your back, butt, and core.

Swimming Instruction:

  1. With your legs extended behind you, lying on your stomach, place your knees hip-width apart.
  2. While maintaining a shoulder-width distance between your upper and lower arms, stretch your arms slightly forward.
  3. Lift your left arm and right leg off the ground as you raise your belly button toward your spine.
  4. If possible, raise your head and chest off the floor, but only as far as you feel comfortable.
  5. Maintain a neutral neck and eye gaze on the floor, if that helps.
  6. Reverse the exercise by extending the left arm and right leg on the opposite side.
  7. Do five repetitions total.

Spine Stretch Forward

We can use the spine to stretch forward to increase shoulder mobility and become more aware of how our shoulders relate to our spine and ribcage. Exercises like this help us develop our ability to sit without assistance.

Spine Stretch Forward Instruction:

  1. Sit up tall on a mat.
  2. Put your feet up in front of you, keeping your knees bent and toes pointed up.
  3. Straighten your arms out in front of you, keeping your shoulder height.
  4. Bring your belly button close to your spine by tucking your chin to your chest and rolling down (imagine you are writing the letter C with your body).
  5. Inhale as you tighten your muscles and exhale as you extend back to the starting position during the curl.
  6. Repeat five times.


Pilates Chair Exercises for Seniors

Pilates chair exercises

Chair Pilates is one of the best exercises for seniors. Sitting in a chair is an excellent starting point for practicing Pilates. It is preferable to use a straight chair where the feet can rest comfortably on the ground. Still, even those who find a stiff chair a challenge can modify chair Pilates.

Note: If you experience pain or discomfort during your chair Pilates workout, stop what you are doing immediately.

Seated Shoulder Rolls

This exercise can help you relieve neck tension and tightness. It is also one of the best exercises for seniors to improve posture. 

Seated Shoulder Rolls Instruction:

  1. Sit up nice and tall on a solid chair.
  2. Come away from the back of the chair. You can place a pillow behind you for support.
  3. Place your hands on your thighs.
  4. Allow your shoulders to relax.
  5. Turn your shoulder back and roll them gently.
  6. Repeat three times.
  7. Relax your shoulders close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.

Seated Marching

Seated marching creates stability on both sides of the body (hip flexors and glutes). In addition to developing balance, marching improves core stability. Seated marching helps the aging athlete avoid stumbling when walking.

Seated Marching instruction:

  1. From the shoulder roll, open your eyes.
  2. Place Your arms at your sides as you sit up straight.
  3. March alternately with your legs. Bring one leg up as high as it can go, then lower it again.
  4. If possible, pump your arms.
  5. Perform 30 seconds of marches, or 20 in total.

Circle Movements

This exercise can build body awareness, deepen your strength, and improve your posture and alignment.

Circle Movements Instruction:

  1. Lengthen your right leg.
  2. Move your ankle joint in circles.
  3. Reverse the movement.
  4. Repeat for ten times on each leg.

Ankle Pumps

Exercises like this are a great way to strengthen your ankles and feet. You can perform them during your footwork warm-up or whenever you like.

Ankle Pumps Instruction:

  1. Put your arms at your sides in an upright position and keep your back straight.
  2. Put your legs straight in front of you. Then push your ankles downward as if you were pressing on the accelerator.
  3. Keep holding for 3 seconds.
  4. Bring your toes towards your shins while keeping your knees straight.
  5. Hold each position for three seconds.
  6. Repeat 10 times in total.

Seated Side Bend

Pilates chair exercises

By bending your body sideways, you can stretch the muscles around your rib cage, i.e., the serratus and the intercostal, as well as strengthen your oblique, improve your balance, and tone your waistline.

Seated Side Bend Instruction:

  1. Bring your arms down by your side.
  2. Gently lean to the right and let your head drop with you. You can put your left hand on the side of your chair.
  3. Reach back up and breathe.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Perform three times on each side.

Seated Body Twist

By doing this exercise, you will strengthen your oblique and spine muscles. As a result, you will be able to straighten your spine while seated and help to lengthen it against the gravitational pull.

Seated Body Twist Instruction:

  1. Sit up straight.
  2. Place your left hand on your right thigh.
  3. Place your right hand to the back of the chair and look behind.
  4. Inhale and come to the center and relax.
  5. Exhale and perform on the other side.
  6. Repeat three times on each side.

Arm Stretch

It is one of the best exercises for seniors, which helps to increase flexibility and range of motion.

The Instruction:

  1. Sit up straight.
  2. Spread your right arm across your chest.
  3. Grip the side of your left upper arm with the right hand (just above the elbow).
  4. Using your right hand, pull your left arm across your body.
  5. Keep the left elbow bents you pull across your body.
  6. Inhale and raise your arms to the
  7. Try holding the stretch for 30 seconds.
  8. Alternate sides and repeat.
  9. Repeat two times on each side

Note: If it’s hard for you to raise both your arms simultaneously, you can do it with one arm at a time.

How Many Times a Week Should I Do Pilates?

Pilates is a safe and effective workout that you can do every day. When starting with Pilates, make sure to practice 2 to 3 times per week to reap all the benefits.

Why Do I Feel so Tired After Pilates?

Pilates chair exercises

The proper programming of Pilates sessions can, in some cases, leave you feeling like you utilized your entire body. Pilates is characterized by this nature, making it unique from yoga. Yoga emphasizes flexibility, but Pilates works simultaneously with your core and stabilizes muscles. After working out, seniors may feel tired for several reasons. Including:

Insufficient nutrition intake: You will feel better after and during exercise if you give your body proper nutrition. There are many healthy foods to eat before a workout for seniors.

Being dehydrated: No matter how fit you are or the type of exercise you prefer, you must drink enough water during and after your workout and need to know what to drink before a workout. The good news is you don’t have to drink plain water all the time. To keep your body hydrated after exercise, you need to know what to drink after a workout.

Pushing yourself too hard: The harder your fitness routine is, the more exhausted you will typically feel afterward. In this case, you need to know more about the exercises seniors should avoid.

Medical condition: Seniors need to consult a doctor before starting any new exercise and know about the potential dangers of exercise for seniors.

Final words

It is never too late to begin practicing Pilates. Increasing control and stability is crucial for older adults, as it can make a significant difference in their ability to move, balance, and posture. Pilates improves core and leg strength and flexibility, thereby positively affecting balance. This exercise, along with primary fitness benefits, may reduce the risk of falls among older people.

Source pilatesanytime dailycaring healthline
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Emily Tremblay
Emily Tremblay
2 years ago

Most people don’t realize that chair exercise is as good as standing exercise; for some people like myself, it’s even better. I can’t stress enough just how much chair exercises have helped me in the past few years. I’m much stronger, and I’m more balanced by doing simple daily seated exercises. My physiotherapist gives me my exercise program monthly. From this list, I have done seated marching and side bend; they are simple but effective.

Reply to  Emily Tremblay
2 years ago

I used to be a runner until I was 32; I had a severe car accident. I couldn’t walk for eight months. Now, after about 20 years, sometimes I get frustrated from my leg pain. My daughter is a physiotherapist; she has helped me a lot during the past few years. Chair exercises are practical, but it takes persistence and patience. I admire your hard work, Emily, and reading your comment makes me think about listening to my daughter and do my exercises more regularly.

2 years ago

I’m glad chair exercises are a thing. And I don’t think they are only good for pregnant people or those with limited mobility. I think even young people who work in offices and do desk jobs to refresh and avoid painful physical problems in the future.

2 years ago

Quick question. Do You think I can do pilates unsupervised? I mean, can you just start working out on your own all of a sudden without going to the gym or consulting a coach?

2 years ago

I love Pilates because I do exercises with my friends. We always have fun times together. Also, Pilates is not a high-intensity exercise, so we don’t have to put significant pressure on our joints or knees. Besides, with Pilates, we can keep our muscles strong same as in past times. If you do it at home or in the gym as a group activity, you will be happy for socializing …

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2 years ago

Thanks for the post.

Taraftar Tokenleri Nereden Alınır
Taraftar Tokenleri Nereden Alınır
2 years ago

Thanks for the post.