Chair Pilates for Seniors

Chair Pilates can help you build a strong core and combat the natural decrease in muscle mass that comes with aging while helping you get more mobile, more balanced, and maintain a great quality of life.

French Author, Jules Renard, once said: "It is not how old you are, it is how you are old."

Isn’t it wonderful that the choice of active aging is up to you? But let’s face it, getting older presents new challenges and as you age, you find that your strength is fading, you no longer have the same range of motion, and you find that you are just not as flexible as you used to be anymore.

Good news: Pilates can help you build a strong core and combat the natural decrease in muscle mass that comes with aging while helping you get more mobile, more balanced, and maintain a great quality of life.

Where do you start, though? It is hard enough to be a twenty-something, walking into a gym or a Pilates studio, so how much more motivation does it require for an older person to build up the courage to stay active?

More good news: from the comfort (and privacy) of your home, you can benefit from the functional conditioning Pilates provides while doing exercises that are in tune with your abilities and goals in aging.

Have you heard of Chair Pilates?

While Pilates is usually practiced on a Reformer, an EXO or Wunda chair, or a Mat, Chair Pilates (using a regular kitchen or dining room chair), is an excellent way for older adults to get more active. This exercise can help you practice modified movements while seated in a chair, without having to purchase special equipment.

When you do Chair Pilates, you can tone your whole body by challenging your body with your own weight and at the same time improve your posture and balance.

Why Chair Pilates is a Good Place for Older Adults to Start

The motivation to become more active is often preceded by a health scare as we get older. But it still remains intimidating to start an exercise regime for the first time (or for the first time in a while), regardless of how necessary we know it is.

Pilates Anytime takes the intimidation out of the process as you can practice Pilates privately, perhaps until you have built up more confidence to join a class to flaunt your fit body in a studio somewhere. The most important thing is just to start. For this type of exercise, all you need is a regular chair, meaning it can be done pretty much anywhere and at your convenience.

What are the Benefits of Chair Pilates?

If you are looking for a stronger core, better balance, more flexibility, and just feeling better, regular Pilates is a great way to start. However, if you know a little bit about Pilates, you also know that some of the more advanced exercises can be a challenge for even a young person, let alone someone who is a little older. Some of the positionings can be especially challenging if your mobility is limited. As you age, you lose mobility because of physiological changes. With Chair Pilates, you will practice positions that challenge your body orientation in relation to gravity and you can practice movements that put the least amount of stress on your joints, while at the same time stabilizing your range of motion, and making you stronger.

Chair Pilates is an exercise that will work your entire body, contributing to your quality of life by enabling you to do everyday activities with more ease. With the combination of breath and slow and very controlled movements, Chair Pilates moves between exercises that develop the small muscles as well as the long lean ones, bringing your whole body into better alignment.

If you have a hard time getting up and down from the floor, Chair Pilates is perfect for you as it helps with better posture and mobility. There is a variety of exercises that can be done seated in the chair to tone your whole body.

Doing Chair Pilates is especially helpful if you are struggling with Osteoporosis. If you suffer from this, you will do well with exercises that strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips, shoulders, and spine without causing too much flexion or pressure on the spine.

In addition to improving balance and posture, Chair Pilates can also improve bone density. This is accomplished by moving your body against gravity, while creating more lean muscle that will, in turn, support your bones and skeleton. When you are more balanced, it can help prevent falls and fractures, which can happen as you age.

If you are struggling with arthritis or other joint issues, Chair Pilates can help you practice exercises without putting too much pressure on the joints or body in general.

By working on a stronger core, you will also see improvement in balance, coordination, and stability.

Getting active will also increase your energy level, and release some endorphins, which will also help you manage stress and feel better.

With the right Chair Pilates program, you can also treat and prevent pain in specific areas such as your spine, hips and knees.

What are Some Basic Chair Pilates Exercises to Start With?

Shoulder rolls - stretch and strengthen your neck and shoulders with this gentle class.

Breathing and meditation - Breathing exercises can help clear your lungs, increase oxygen levels, help you relax and focus inward.

Stretches - Open your chest and hips with this Mat and chair workout that also stretches the spine.

Lower body workout for strength and mobility - in this workout you will build a strong foundation for other activities.

Pilates for balance - in addition to working on our balance, you will also work on leg strength in this class.


It is always good to consult with a physician before starting any exercise, but it is also very important to listen to your own body in addition to listening to your doctor. Be realistic about your abilities and start slow with small and gentle movements and build up from there.

Just like regular Pilates, Chair Pilates is designed to work with you where you are. There is no need to injure yourself in an attempt to complete a movement. Rather focus on the ones you can comfortably do until you are strong enough to do more.

It may be helpful to start with an in-person class or a private one-on-one session if you are unsure of what you can or should do. This will help you build confidence as you get stronger and more flexible.

Although you will benefit from Chair Pilates by relieving joint stiffness if you have issues such as arthritis, it is important to modify your exercise so that you don't strain your joints. Move gently when you exercise and avoid movements that can tire your joints, such as excessive twisting or too much flexion (excessive bending of the knees, elbows, and other joints). A safe rule of thumb, if it hurts, stop doing it right away.

In Summary

Chair Pilates is a gentle, low-impact, full-body exercise option that will keep you active, more flexible, and having more energy, regardless of your age. With this exercise option, there is nothing standing in the way of a healthier, happier, more active you. Practicing a few times a week will improve your health and body awareness, boost your self-esteem, and help you live independently longer.

Marchel Ackler
About the Author

Marchel Ackler

Marchel Ackler is a Marketing Associate at Pilates Anytime. She lives in Knightdale, NC. She enjoys cooking with loved ones, crocheting, and gardening, is currently learning how to play pool (billiards), and loves going on adventures with her husband and puppy.


Great work can be done  with a chair - could you point us to some senior chair classes on the site. Thank you Boo
Marchel A
Hi BOO! Look for the green words throughout the article and click on them for videos and other blogs with information, including the list of exercises. 

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