The Effect of Chair-Based Exercise on Physical Function in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Natalie Klempel, Nicole Blackburn, Ilona Mc Mullan, Jason Wilson, Lee Smith, Conor Cunningham, Roger O'Sullivan, Paolo Caserotti, Mark Tully

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Physical activity is an important determinant of health in later life. The public health restrictions in response to COVID-19 have interrupted habitual physical activity behaviours in older adults. In response, numerous exercise programmes have been developed for older adults, many involving chair-based exercise. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesise the effects of chair-based exercise on the health of older adults. Ovid Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, PyscInfo and SPORTDiscus databases were searched from inception to 1 April 2020. Chair-based exercise programmes in adults ≥50 years, lasting for at least 2 weeks and measuring the impact on physical function were included. Risk of bias of included studies were assessed using Cochrane risk of bias tool v2. Intervention content was described using TiDieR Criteria. Where sufficient studies (≥3 studies) reported data on an outcome, a random effects meta-analysis was performed. In total, 25 studies were included, with 19 studies in the meta-analyses. Seventeen studies had a low risk of bias and five had a high risk of bias. In this systematic review including 1388 participants, results demonstrated that chair-based exercise programmes improve upper extremity (handgrip strength: MD = 2.10; 95%CI = 0.76, 3.43 and 30 s arm curl test: MD = 2.82; 95%CI = 1.34, 4.31) and lower extremity function (30 s chair stand: MD 2.25; 95%CI = 0.64, 3.86). The findings suggest that chair-based exercises are effective and should be promoted as simple and easily implemented activities to maintain and develop strength for older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1902
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 16 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.A.T., N.K., N.E.B., J.J.W., I.L.M. and P.C. were supported and funded by the European Union program Horizon 2020 (H2020‐Grant 634270) as part of the SITLESS consortium. The funders had no role in study design, data analysis and interpretation, or preparation of the manuscript.

Acknowledgments: The work described in this publication was supported and funded by the European Union program Horizon 2020 (H2020‐Grant 634270). Consortium members of the participating organisations of the SITLESS project include: Antoni Salvà Casanovas, Àlex Domingo, Marta Roqué and Laura Coll‐Planas: Health and Ageing Foundation of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain; Maria Giné‐Garriga, Miriam Guerra‐Balic, Carme Martin‐Borràs, Javier Jerez‐ Roig, Guillermo R Oviedo, Marta Santiago‐Carrés, Oriol Sansano and Guillermo Varela: Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sport Sciences Blanquerna, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain; Emma McIntosh and Manuela Deidda: Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment, University of Glasgow, UK; Dietrich Rothenbacher, Michael Denkinger, Katharina Wirth, Dhayana Dallmeier and Jochen Klenk: Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry, Ulm University, Ger‐ many; Frank Kee: Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, UK; Mark A Tully, Nicole E Blackburn, Jason J Wilson, Ilona McMullan and Natalie Klempel: School of Health Sciences, Ulster University, UK; Paolo Caserotti and Mathias Skjødt: Department of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of South Denmark, Den‐ mark; Guillaume Lefebvre: SIEL, Sport initiative et Loisir Bleu association, Straßbourg, France; Den‐ ise González: SIEL, Sport initiative et Loisir Bleu association, Barcelona, Spain.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Chair‐based exercise
  • Older adults
  • Physical function
  • Systematic review
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sitting Position
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • COVID-19
  • Accidental Falls/prevention & control
  • Fear
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Quality of Life
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Hand Strength


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