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You don’t need machines or a gym membership to work out. A simple chair will do.

Margaret Pruitt, today’s exercise model, is a real wonder woman.
Margaret Pruitt poses for a portrait at her home. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Margaret Pruitt, today’s exercise model, is a real wonder woman. The 98-year-old lives alone, cooks for herself and treats her friends at First United Methodist Church, where she volunteers one day a week, to homemade cookies. There was a time she even took a daily walk around the lake in front of her home. Because her walking is a little more limited these days, chair exercises are a good fitness option. Fortunately, exercise offers us a variety of creative movements, enabling people of all ages and abilities to experience the many benefits of physical activity. Whether you lack mobility, have balance concerns or are fearful of injuries, there is always something you can do to help lessen pain, improve balance, reduce falls and increase your energy levels. Before we journey on, please check with your physician before you begin a new exercise program. Here are a few chair exercises that can help strengthen and stretch, improve circulation and increase range of motion.

Marching feet: This warmup targets the hips and helps get the blood flowing before you perform exercises.

Keeping your back straight, bend your knees with your feet on the floor a comfortable distance apart.

Place your hands on the seat of the chair for support.

Pretend you are marching by lifting your right leg with your knee bent as high as you comfortably can.

Lower your right foot to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg.

Keep on marching for 30 seconds.

Take a break, then repeat two or three more times.

Head turns: These stretch the neck, which helps to relieve or prevent neck pain.

Keeping your head over your shoulders and your back straight, slowly turn your head to the right side, looking over your shoulder. (You should feel a stretch in the side of your neck and shoulders.)

Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds.

Slowly turn your head to the opposite side and repeat the stretch.

Repeat four or five times on each side.

Tip: Avoid turning your shoulders, back or hips.

Shoulder rolls: These help counteract shoulder tightness.

Sitting straight, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, then slowly rotate them toward the back, down and around to the front, repeating four or five times.

Change directions, shrugging your shoulders up toward your ears, then slowly rotating them toward the front, down and around to the back, repeating four or five times.

Toe-heel raises: These strengthen the calves and ankles.

Sitting straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart, raise your toes as high as they will go. Hold a few seconds, then lower and lift your heels off the floor, holding a few seconds. Continue alternating eight to 10 times.

Tennis ball rolls: These ease arch discomfort in your feet.

To massage your feet, place one foot on top of a tennis ball and roll it under your foot for several minutes. Change feet and repeat.

Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can’t respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at slafit@tampabay.rr.com.

Your move | Demonstrated by Margaret Pruitt

Margaret Pruitt uses a 2-pound hand weight to do a knee lift/arm raise with knee extensions. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Margaret Pruitt uses a 2-pound hand weight to do a knee lift/arm raise with knee extensions. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Knee lift/arm raise with knee extension: Strengthens shoulders, arms, abdominals, hips and leg muscles.

Sitting straight with your feet a comfortable distance apart, hold a light weight in your left hand with your palm facing inward.

Lift your right knee while bending your left elbow, bringing the weight to shoulder level. (Your thigh will be parallel or near parallel to the floor.)

Slowly raise your arm upward as you extend your bent leg into a straight leg with toes pointed upward.

Pause, then bend your knee, placing your foot on the floor while returning your arm to the original position.

Change to an opposite knee lift with arm raise and continue alternating eight to 10 times.

Tip: Avoid locking your knees.

Margaret Pruitt uses a small rubber ball to do seated ball twists. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Margaret Pruitt uses a small rubber ball to do seated ball twists. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Seated ball twist: Strengthens core muscles and helps with spinal mobility.

Sitting straight, hold a ball with both hands close to your body.

Without moving your hips, bend your elbows and slowly rotate your torso to the right as far as you comfortably can, exhaling as you rotate.

Inhale as you return to center.

Exhale and rotate your torso to the left.

Inhale, returning to the center.

Consider the two twists as one repetition and repeat the pattern eight to 10 times.

Margaret Pruitt uses 2-pound weights to do seated arm rows. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Seated arm row: Strengthens upper arms and back muscles and improves your shoulder range of motion.

Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.

Holding light weights with your palms facing inward, extend your arms in front of your chest.

Bend your elbows with your thumbs pointing up.

Keeping your bent elbows close to your sides, bring your elbows toward the back, gently squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Return bent arms, giving yourself a hug.

Repeat the pattern eight to 10 times.

Margaret does diagonal resistant band stretches. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Diagonal resistant band stretch: Stretches the chest and strengthens back muscles.

Sitting in a chair, hold a resistance band in your hands.

Extend your arms diagonally, with one arm near shoulder level and the other arm diagonally to the opposite side.

Hold the diagonal stretch for a count of five.

Perform the stretch eight to 10 times on each side.

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