Sometimes Barbara Schutzman exercises while standing. Other times she does her workout from a chair, like during Mary Beth Perfas’ Sit & Stay Fit class at Northern Dutchess Hospital Women’s View Center at the Healthy Annex in Rhinebeck.

“The fact that she’s able to address almost the entire body based on using a chair is wonderful,” said Schutzman, 75, of Rhinebeck. “It’s quite a workout.”

Exercise and physical activity, reports the National Institutes of Health’s MedlinePlus, are good for seniors and nearly everyone else, including endurance routines for better breathing and heart rate, strength exercises for stronger muscles, flexibility programs to stay limber and balance training to help prevent falls.

And yet, while fall-related injuries send more than 2 million seniors to the emergency room each year, it’s a fear of falling that causes many seniors and others with physical limitations or balance issues to avoid exercising, even while it can improve balance and overall fitness. One way to minimize worry while working out is by doing so while sitting in a chair or holding on to one.

“There are a lot of chair exercises and this is perfect because some of (my students) have limited mobility,” said Perfas, who developed her Sit & Stay Fit class with chair-based exercises as a less intense option for seniors and others.

Best, said Perfas, is exercising in chairs without arms to allow for a full range of fitness routines, including those for arms, legs, feet and ankles, the neck, shoulders and the back. Perfas sets her hour-long sessions to music and directs her class to do as she does by lifting their chests, scooping out their arms, turning their torso and more, allowing each person to go at his or her pace whiling encouraging them to challenge themselves.

“They need a little support,” she said, of her students. “It makes them feel good to know (the chair) is right there, in case they fall.”

Schutzman said Perfas’ workout is less taxing because it’s done while seated or holding on to a chair, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sweat-inducing.

“It’s a class like this that keeps you agile,” she said.

Judith Muir, an Alexander Technique movement specialist and teacher based in Verbank, said chair exercises can help people with stability issues and physical limitations due to age or disabilities, regain their balance and improve their mobility and flexibility.

“We all know that keeping a person mobile, especially a senior, is the most important thing in terms of other more complicated health issues,” she said.

About Author:
Judith Muir M.M. M.AmSAT., is a professional musician, award-winning music educator, and certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.
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Author's Bio: 

Judith Muir M.M. M.AmSAT., is a professional musician, award-winning music educator, and certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.

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