Sunday, June 3, 2012

Simple Seated Leg Exercises to Help Circulation and Flexibility

Can't stand to exercise? There are many ways to exercise while remaining seated!

How to Improve Leg Strength and Flexibility © Katrena
Many people find it uncomfortable to travel, work behind a desk, or stay in a seated position for long periods of time because their legs begin to cramp, ache, have changes in sensation, and other unpleasant symptoms. It is a good idea to check with a healthcare provider before leaving for a trip to address any risk factors for blood clots or other health conditions that could turn a dream vacation into a nightmare and to determine which exercises are safe for one's own health status.

Plan for regular breaks in which you can stand, stretch, walk, and exercise if possible. There are, however, quite a few leg exercises that you can do while seated. Many of these exercises require very little space, as you can see from the photos below.

Ensure that you are seated in a sturdy chair or seat that will not slide or tip easily. A chair that is the correct height will allow both feet to rest comfortably and completely on the floor. Develop stronger core muscles by sitting slightly forward so that your back is not against the back of the chair. Sit up as straight as possible with your shoulders back and down while performing these exercises to improve one's posture muscles as well.

Exercises such as these should be comfortable but perhaps challenging. Listen to your body and stop or modify any activity that feels uncomfortable. Many people find that their strength, balance, flexibility, and range of movement may improve by performing exercises such as these on a regular basis.

Seated Calf Exercise © Katrena
Seated Shin Exercise © Katrena
Toe Raises and Heel Lifts
  1. Start with the feet resting on the floor about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Lift the heels as high as comfortably possible while keeping the toes on the floor. 
  3. Lower the heels back to the floor.
  4. Lift the toes as high as comfortably possible while keeping the heels on the floor.
  5. Lower the toes back to the floor.
  6. Repeat several times.
Seated Ankle Exercise © Katrena
Increase Flexibility in the Legs © Katrena
Foot Inversion and Eversion
  1. Begin with the feet resting on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the inside of the feet while keeping the outside of the feet in contact with the floor, letting the knees come naturally and comfortably out to the side.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Lift the outside of the feet while keeping the inside of the feet in contact with the floor, letting the knees come closer together.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat several times.
Exercises to Help Balance © Katrena
Leg Exercises You Can Do While Seated © Katrena
Heel Circles
  1. Place both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift one heel and begin to move that heel around in a circular motion.
  3. Reverse the rotation.
  4. Repeat on the other foot.
Simple Leg Exercises © Katrena
How to Improve Leg Strength © Katrena
Leg Exercises for Traveling © Katrena
Strengthen Lower Legs © Katrena
Heel/Toe Walk Out and In
  1. Start with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift both heels while keeping the toes on the floor and turn the heels out as far as possible.
  3. Place both heels on the floor.
  4. Lift the toes and turn them out as far as possible.
  5. Repeat until your feet are as far apart as possible while still comfortable.
  6. Reverse the move turning the heels/toes inward until they are touching.
  7. Repeat several times.
Chair Exercises for Legs © Katrena
Heel Presses
  1. Begin with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift one foot off the floor while keeping the other foot on the floor.
  3. Straighten the lifted leg in front of you while lowering the heel to the floor.
  4. Return the first leg to the starting point.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.
  6. Continue alternating legs several times.
Stretch and Strengthen Legs © Katrena
Toe Presses

This is the same exercise as heel presses with the toes pointed.

Increase Leg Strength © Katrena
Heel Presses to the Corners

Perform the heel presses exercise to the outer corners rather than straight ahead.

Quick and Easy Leg Exercises © Katrena
Toe Presses to the Corners

This is the same exercise as heels to the corners with the toes pointed.

Quick and Easy Leg Exercises © Katrena
Seated March
  1. Start with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Alternate lifting one foot slightly off the floor while keeping the other on the floor as if you are walking in place.
How to Build Stamina © Katrena
Seated Run
This is the same exercise as the seated march at a faster pace while keeping the feet closer to the floor.

How to do a Seated Step Touch © Katrena
Seated Exercises to Increase Heart Rate © Katrena
How to Exercise When You Can't Stand © Katrena
Chair Exercises to Help Circulation in Legs © Katrena
Step Touch
  1. Begin with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the right foot and place it on the floor several inches to the right of center.
  3. Lift the left foot and place it on the floor beside the right foot.
  4. Lift the left foot and place it on the floor several inches to the left of center.
  5. Lift the right foot and place it on the floor beside the left foot.
  6. Repeat several times.
Seated Quad Exercise © Katrena
Knee Lifts
  1. Begin with both feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the right knee up and toward the chest while maintaining good posture with the upper body. Place your hands under each lifting knee if needed.
  3. Lower the right knee back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat with the left knee.
  5. Continue alternating for several cycles.
How to Help Stiff Joints © Katrena
Corner Knee Lifts

This is the same exercise as the knee lifts except you will lift the knee out and in toward the side of the body.

 Seated Leg Exercise Variations and Tips

One's body tends to become accustomed to exercises after several weeks, so it is helpful to try variations to keep it interesting, active, and effective. You might experiment with several different options, such as:
  • Changing the speed, making sure that the exercises are still controlled and not painful.
  • Trying doubles, doing two (or four) on each side before changing to the other side.
  • Adding a variety of arm movements – the heart rate will tend to increase with higher arm positions. Avoid making tight fists while exercising.
  • Try exercising to music, ensuring that the tempo is safe and works well with the moves. Look for music in the mid- to high-120s beats per minute.
Many group exercise chair classes are offered at gyms, senior centers, community buildings, etc. It can be quite helpful to try some classes in which you can learn a variety of safe moves, get feedback on technique, and meet others who also wish to maintain or improve one's physical health.

Readers may wish to get tips before trying a first group exercise class. Find more of my fitness articles at the Fit Tips 4 Life site map.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments!