Chair-Based Exercise Can Improve Function and Wellbeing in Nursing Home Residents

April 28, 2021

Nursing home residents often deal with limitations in basic activities of daily living (ADLs), and 70% have mobility restrictions including the inability to walk or transfer from bed or chair. Lockdowns and quarantines during the pandemic exacerbated these issues. However, creative approaches to helping improving mobility and other issues have shown positive results, such as chair-based exercise (CBE) interventions described in a study in the April issue of JAMDA. The authors described results indicating that CBE intervention may improve physical and cognitive functions, as well as the wellbeing of nursing home residents.

In Chair-Based Exercise Interventions for Nursing Home Residents: A Systematic Review, researchers conducted a literature review and determined that CBE is demonstrated to be both feasible and safe. Nine of 10 studies reported significant improvements in physical function, cognitive function, and/or wellbeing. Seven of 10 focused on physical performance and found improvements in ADL performance, lower body strength, upper body strength, hand grip strength, hip extension, respiratory muscle strength, arm muscle endurance, joint flexibility, and functional reach. Three of the studies in the review only included residents who were unable to walk, but still experienced improved physical function, suggesting that even these individuals can benefit from CBE programs.

The authors said, “These improvements can promote functional abilities and prevent functional decline and, therefore, contribute to a better performance in ADLs for both ambulatory and wheelchair-bound residents.”

This review also provides evidence that CBE interventions have a positive effect on physical and cognitive functions and psychosocial wellbeing in nursing home residents. Nonetheless, the author stressed that “focusing on specific CBE modalities, separating analyses by mobility status, and adjustment of intensity and progression are needed to provide more targeted and evidence-based guidelines.”

The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Human Movement Science, University of Hamburg, Germany; Institute of Medical Physics, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Numberg, Germany; Department of Geriatric Rehabilitation, Robert-Bosch Hospital, Germany; and Department of Biological and Neuroergonomics, TU, Berlin, Germany.

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JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.