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Chair Exercise Benefits Seniors of All Levels

March 28, 2019

Chair Exercise Benefits Seniors of All Levels

According to the National Institute on Aging at NIH, exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, at Springwell, fitness instructor Meg McNamara teaches a chair exercise class so that residents of all fitness levels can stay healthy and active — her oldest participant is 96 years young!

Exercise and physical activity offer many benefits and can help:

  • Improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do
  • Manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis
  • Maintain and improve your physical strength and fitness
  • Improve your balance
  • Reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being


McNamara is celebrating her fourth year teaching at Springwell and says that the chair exercise class is one of the more popular offerings. As many as 17 residents at a time come to get their workout at the 45-minute class, which incorporates stretching, aerobics and abdominal exercises.

“The more flexible you are, the stronger you are and the more helpful it is for you to avoid injuries,” said McNamara, who taught Jazzercise for 11 years. “For example, if you trip, it might be easier to catch yourself before you fall.”

McNamara likes to mix up the moves and also practices “Qigong,” a Chinese mind-body-spirit practice that improves one’s mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent.

She often incorporates yoga moves into the class, and according to, chair yoga is an excellent way for older adults to loosen and stretch painful muscles, reduce stress, and improve circulation. It also reduces anxiety, helps lower blood pressure, protects joints, and builds strength and balance. Staying seated means that even frail seniors or those who aren’t flexible can safely do the exercises.

“The class is helping me to have more freedom of movement. We should be grateful to move our bodies. I didn’t exercise until I came to Springwell,” said resident Shana Dikoff. “Meg always makes sure we put our bodies in the correct position. She wants us to make sure we are not hurting ourselves. A lot of us have pain from arthritis and other ailments and we feel better when we’re finished.”

In addition to the physical benefits, resident Alice Snyder is happy for what the class does for her spirit: “We all know exercise is good for our bodies, but exercise is also good for your mind. Some people don’t do anything. The exercise is very good here. We all love Meg.”

McNamara holds classes in the Springwell building Monday and Wednesday mornings at 10:45 a.m. and in The Homestead building Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 11:00 a.m. Each class is 45 minutes. In addition, Springwell offers exercise classes other days of the week (every day but Sunday) led by instructors from LifeBridge Health & Fitness.

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