Zumba Chair Exercises

Teacher and active senior women doing yoga class on chairs

You'd be hard pressed to find a gym or fitness facility these days that doesn't offer a Zumba class. This Latin-American inspired dance workout has become increasingly popular and has been shown to effectively lower body weight and fat percentage among women who participate. More recently, a modified format, called Zumba Gold, has been developed for seniors and other individuals who are unable to tolerate the rigors of a standard class. Many of the exercises in this class can be performed from a seated position and may be replicated at home.

Set Up

Sit in a chair that allows you to set your feet comfortably on the floor. Begin by turning on some rhythmic, Latin-style music in the background. Ideally, the songs should have an easy to follow beat that is moderately paced. Turn the music to a medium volume and try these Zumba Gold-type chair exercises.

active senior women in yoga class on chairs, doing relaxation exercise

1. Shoulder Roll

Shoulder rolls activate the muscles that prevent a slumped sitting posture by retracting and depressing your shoulder blades.

HOW TO DO IT: Rest your hands on your thighs and sit up straight. Without moving your lower arms, roll your right shoulder in a complete circle. When you have completed the revolution, repeat the exercise with your left shoulder and continue to switch off between the two as you match the song's rhythm. Be sure to emphasize the down and back position as you make your circles.

2. Stationary March

This technique helps you raise your heart rate by simulating a jogging motion from the chair.

HOW TO DO IT: Alternately march your knees up to the ceiling and back down again to the music. As you do this, keep your elbows bent and swing your arms back and forth like you are running. Be sure not to allow your shoulders to shrug or your back to round as you complete the exercise.

3. L Tap

This easy-to-replicate dance step mimics the movements of a Zumba class without requiring you to stand up.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on a the edge of a chair with your knees bent at 90-degree angles and your feet on the floor. Start by moving your right foot straight forward and tapping your toe. Then, bring the foot back under you and tap again before moving out to the right side and tapping your toe a third time. Finally, return your right foot to its initial position and repeat the L-shaped pattern with your left leg. Fluidly switch between the two legs as you choreograph the movements to the music.

Woman stretching her arms sitting by the table at work next to computer

4. Overhead Rainbow

This exercise targets the rotator cuff muscles in your shoulders while encouraging you to sit in a more erect posture.

HOW TO DO IT: Scoot forward so your back does not touch the chair and assume a tall posture. Begin with one arm held out to the side at shoulder-level and the other hand on the top of your head. Rhythmically alternate your arms between the two positions to the beat of the song. Your hands should trace an arc or rainbow over the top of your head as you do this.

5. Knee Extension

This exercise targets the quadriceps, a muscle group that protects the knees and assists with standing, walking and negotiating stairs.

HOW TO DO IT: Without allowing your back to slump, begin by kicking your right leg out in front of you as you contract your thigh muscle. Then, bring the leg under you again and repeat the kick with your left leg. Continue to switch legs in time with the music. This technique can be made more challenging by raising your opposite arm over your head as you kick your legs.

Guidelines and Precautions

For middle-aged and older adults looking to improve their cardiovascular health, the exercises above should be completed in 45 minute sessions switching between techniques every few minutes. This can be done up to four times per week. Try to work out at a moderate intensity. You may feel your heart rate increase, but you should still be able to have a conversation if someone was next to you. Be sure to stop immediately if you feel dizzy or light headed and to discontinue any exercise that leads to increased pain.