The VQ ActionCare Resistance Chair is designed to provide exercise solutions for both the active older adult and those recovering from an illness or going through post-rehabilitation. The Resistance Chair is beneficial for older adults who have lost the ability to stand or ambulate without the use of assistance; however, for all other categories of older adults, it is critical to train dynamic balance (which is defined as controlling the center of gravity over a moving base of support) and integrated strength (the ability to strengthen the hips, core, shoulders and back at the same time).
We found the chair to be somewhat awkward to setup. It is advertised as being totally portable and while it does come assembled with wheels to help move it around when folded, it is still heavy and cumbersome and may not be easy for an older adult to stow away and pull out for regular use.
The base product we’re reviewing here is essentially just a reinforced steel folding chair with attachments for resistance cables and a step. There are only a limited number of exercises that can be performed, which is problematic. For example, exercises are primarily limited to pushing in front of the body (like chest presses) or overhead (like shoulder presses), which are movements that have little functional carry-over to traditional activities of daily living. There are optional components available for sale, including an exercise bike and shoulder stretching device, that increase the number of exercises; however, it can get expensive and the device is no longer portable as you add on extra pieces. The “PostureProp” back support piece is a great concept to help older adults sit upright; however, we found that it actually pushed the subject too far forward instead of in the appropriate position.
It is critical that older adults are able to maintain balance from a standing position and control balance during movement. Exercises performed from a seated position do not allow for this necessary and critical type of strength training. The trend in fitness is to move away from exercises that isolate muscle action at specific joints and teach movement patterns that utilize a number of different muscles and joint actions at the same time, since this is more similar to how the human body is designed to move and what individuals face in everyday living. Older adults who are functional and able to stand during exercise would receive a much greater benefit from an exercise program utilizing equipment that requires standing and using the legs, hips and core muscles while performing lifting, pulling and rotating movements in order to train them to perform tasks relevant to activities they do on a regular basis. While some of the add-on components are designed for standing exercises, they are limited.
Older adults who could benefit from the Resistance Chair include those who have limited lower-body function or are wheelchair-bound, and those who can’t stand during exercise due to a health condition or illness. The Resistance Chair would be helpful to develop upper-body strength for these individuals, but there is not an efficient way to do pulling exercises (like seated rows) while sitting in the basic chair system, which is a major drawback.
In addition to the product evaluation we conducted, we put the chair to the test with a woman in her sixties who fits the demographic for which the chair was designed. This subject found the chair uncomfortable to sit in and somewhat unstable, and could only figure out how to do a couple of basic exercises without assistance.
What we liked:
- A chair-based fitness option to build upper-body strength for older adults who can’t stand during exercise
What we didn't like:
- Premium price
- Cumbersome to maneuver
- Limited number of exercise options, particularly with base product
- Step feature is too narrow to fully support an adult-sized foot
- Product does not promote the notion that functional older adults should exercise from a standing (not seated) position to improve balance and integrated strength between the lower and upper body
May 10, 2010