Chair Fitness Exercises For Those With Limited Mobility

Having limited mobility can often make certain ways of exercising rather difficult. But having mobility issues does not mean you cannot exercise. No matter your age, physical condition, or past exercise history – there are plenty of creative and enjoyable approaches to exercise that you can try to help you keep active.

To reach maximum effect, you need to incorporate three types of exercise into your routine. These are:

  • Cardiovascular exercises to raise your heart rate.
  • Strength exercises to build up muscle and bone mass.
  • Flexibility exercises to minimise the risk of injury, and reduce pain and stiffness in joints.


Using these three exercises helps you improve your balance and reduces the likelihood of slips and falls. The best thing is, all three are possible from the comfort of your very own chair at home. These workout exercises are now so popular, they have been given the name ‘chairobics’.

The seated workout, chairobics, is designed to deliver a short yet effective routine that avoids putting unwanted stress and strain on your bones and joints. The workouts generally last around 10-15 minutes and focus mainly on loosening up stiff joints, improving blood flow around the body, improving posture to reduce back pain and to minimise body sores due to sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

To begin, select a chair that allows you to keep your knees bent at 90 degrees, with your feet flat on the floor when seated. If you are in a wheelchair or form of mobility aid, firmly apply the brakes. Attempt to stretch up through your torso while exercising, this will engage your stomach muscles and maintain a good posture. Remember to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water whilst exercising and wear clothing you feel comfortable in. Try to start off the routine rather slowly, allowing your body to warm up, and gradually increase the intensity of the activity when you feel ready. Stop exercising if you experience pain and you may want to consult your local GP before continuing with the workout.


Chest Stretch

Chest Stretch


1. Sit in an upright position and slightly in front of the backrest of the chair. Pull your shoulders back and down. Extend arms out about 45 degrees to the side.

2. Gently push your chest out and upwards until you feel a stretch going across your chest.

Hold for 5 – 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

This exercise helps posture.



Upper Body Twist

Upper Body Twist


1. Sit in an upright position with your feet flat on the floor. Put your right arm on your left shoulder, and your left arm on your right shoulder.

2. Without moving your hips, rotate the upper half of your body to the left.

Hold for five seconds. Repeat on the right side. Do a total of 5 on each side.

This exercise will help develop and maintain flexibility in the upper back.



Hip Marching

Hip Marching


1. Sit in an upright position and slightly in front of the backrest of the chair. Grasp hold of both sides of the chair.

2. Lift up your right leg, with your knee bent, go as far upwards as you feel comfortable. Gently place foot back down to the floor.

Repeat with the other leg. Do a total of 5 lifts with each leg.

This exercise will help strengthen hips and thighs as well as improve flexibility.



Ankle Stretch

Ankle Stretch


 1. Sit upright, grasp hold on to the side of the chair and straighten your right leg with your foot off the floor.

2. With your leg raised and straight, point your toes away from you.

3. Point toes back towards you.

Do a total of 2 sets of 5 stretches with each foot.

This will improve ankle flexibility and reduce blood clot risk.



Arm Raises


 1. Sit in an upright position, with both your arms by your sides.Arm Raises

2. With palms facing away from you, raise both arms out and to the side and up as far as is comfortable. Then slowly return back down.

3. Remember to keep your shoulders down and arms straightened.

Exhale as you raise your arms and inhale as you lower them. Repeat this a total of 5 times.

This builds shoulder strength.



Neck Rotation


Neck Rotation

1. Sit in an upright position with your shoulders down. Look straight in front of you.

2. Slowly turn your head towards your right shoulder as far as is comfortable. Hold this for 5 seconds and return to starting position.

3. Repeat, but on left side.

Do 3 rotations on each side.

This stretch is good for improving neck mobility and flexibility.



Neck Stretch

Neck Stretch


1. Sit in an upright position, look straight in front of you and hold your right shoulder down with your left hand.

2. Slowly tilt your head to the left while holding your shoulder down. Repeat this on the opposite side.

Hold each stretch for 5 seconds and repeat a total of 3 times on each side.

This stretch is good for loosening tight neck muscles.



Remember, no matter what age, physical condition, or past exercise history – you can still keep fit using these workouts as part of your daily routine.

The images and routine described are from the NHS website.