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.