Upper-body strength the easy way

Upper-body strength the easy way

Upper-body exercises are important because they can help with all aspects of life, including balance, stress reduction, ease of everyday activities, and maintaining independence as you age. Upper-body exercises can be easy, no matter your age.

Here are some exercises that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine because they don’t require any equipment. Use things like a wall or chair to strengthen your upper body and core. As always, be safe and be gentle with yourself. Check with your personal physician before starting any new exercise program.


  • Lateral arm circles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with both arms at your sides. You may sit in a chair if this is more comfortable. Raise your arms, palms facing down, so that your body looks like an uppercase T. Pause and make tiny circles in the air with both arms. You can go either direction with the arm circles.
  • Wall angels. Find a sturdy wall to lean against. With your back flat against the wall, place your feet three to six inches from the baseboard. Look to the floor and touch your chin to your chest, keeping the back of your head touching the wall. Your arms should be straight down. Turn your palms facing outward and slowly raise your arms forward as far as you can without feeling discomfort. Pause at the top, and then lower your arms. Keep your body touching the wall throughout the exercise.


Wall pushups. Find a sturdy wall. Place your palms on the wall so that your arms are straight, and then move your feet one inch backwards. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Slowly lean forward so that your palms are flat against the wall at shoulder height. Bend your elbows and move your upper body slowly towards the wall, pausing at the bottom of the movement for one second. Push yourself away from the wall until your arms are straight. It helps if you breathe in during the first part of the movement and exhale during the second part.


Chair dips. On a sturdy, non-rolling chair with armrests, sit with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on the armrests. Your elbows should stick out behind you. Raise yourself out of the chair by straightening your arms as far as you can –  try to keep the weight out of your feet. Pause at the top, and in a controlled manner, lower yourself back into the chair by bending your arms. Don’t just let yourself plop down — you’ll miss out on the full benefit of this exercise.


Opposite arm and leg extensions. On mat or something soft, like carpet, get on all fours and place your hands underneath your shoulders. Your knees should be underneath your hips. With a flat back and your gaze to the floor, extend your right arm so it’s parallel to the floor. At the same time, kick your left leg out behind you. Hold for three seconds and try to maintain your balance. Repeat with the left arm and right leg.

Source: Iora Primary Care.