Chair Exercises for Staying Active During Lockdown

Exercise plays a big part in our physical and mental wellbeing. Especially now, where we’re confined to our homes, regular exercise can help us stay healthy in both body and mind. So, we’ve put together a list of five sitting exercises you can do at home, from the comfort of a chair. Why not give some a try?


Why should I exercise?

The NHS recommends that adults spend around 150 minutes a week doing some form of exercise. Even older adults or those with a disability should aim for at least a moderate level of activity every day. 

There are so many benefits to exercising regularly. By building your strength and fitness, this will help you feel more independent. You’ll also find you have more energy and reduced feelings of fatigue. Overall, it can help improve your health, alleviate existing pain or stiffness and make you less susceptible to illness or injury in future. 

Exercise can also help combat feelings of stress or low mood, which can be particularly challenging during this uncertain time. The endorphins you get from exercise can boost your mood and help you feel altogether more positive. 


What should I consider if I have limited mobility?

If you use a wheelchair or have limited mobility, it can be harder to find exercises that will get your heart rate up. You can also risk straining your muscles or causing injury to yourself if you overstretch. It’s important to work on building your body strength, in particular your muscles, to enable you to stay safe and well when working out. 


Getting ready for exercise

To begin your chair workout, make sure you’re wearing loose, comfortable clothing you can move in. Have some water nearby if you get thirsty. 

Find a solid chair (without wheels) and sit upright with your feet flat on the floor if possible, your knees bent at a right angle. Chairs without arms are better, as they’ll allow for more freedom to move. 


Upper body strength exercises

chair exercises for seniors or wheelchair users


Shoulder openers

You’ll need a broomstick handle or something similar for this exercise. 

Hold the stick horizontally in front with both hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Slowly raise the stick above your head, keeping your arms straight.

Continue up and behind your head until you feel a gentle stretching sensation. Do not overdo it as this could cause injury.

Hold this position for 5 seconds, before gently lowering the stick back to the start. 

Repeat this 10 times.


Chest stretch

Sitting upright, carefully pull your shoulders back and down, holding your arms outstretched either side.

Take a deep breath and push your chest up and out until you feel a stretch.

Hold this position for 5 seconds, before relaxing.

Repeat this 10 times.


Arm raises

If you don’t have free weights at home, try using cans of soup or bottles for this activity.


Set 1: Front raises

Grasping your weights in both hands, with arms straight, slowly lift your arms up in front of you until in line with your shoulders.

Gently lower them back down to your sides. 

Repeat this 10 times.


Set 2: Lateral raises

This time, instead of raising your arms up in front, you’ll be raising them up from your sides, again to shoulder level. 

Gently lower them back down to your sides.

Repeat this 10 times.


Flexibility exercises

flexibility chair workout



Sitting upright, with your feet on the floor, cross your arms, placing your hands on your shoulders (opposite hands on opposite shoulders).

Without moving your hips, carefully turn your body to the left as far as possible.

Hold this position for 5 seconds.

Return to facing forward and repeat on your right side.

Do this 5 times for each side (10 in total).


Hip marching

Hold onto the sides of your chair with both hands.

Gently lift your left leg, with your knee bent at a right angle. 

Lower your leg back down.

Repeat with your right leg.

Do this 5 times per leg (10 in total).


Ankle stretches

Straighten your left leg out in front of you.

Point your toes away from you and then back towards you. 

Repeat 5 times per foot.


Neck rotations

Looking straight ahead, slowly turn your neck to the left until you feel a stretch.

Hold this position for 5 seconds, before slowly returning back to facing forward.

Repeat on the right hand side.

Do this 3 times per side.


Cardio exercises

Cardiovascular exercises are vital for keeping fit. They raise our heart rate and get our blood pumping. Common types of cardio include swimming, aerobics, sports such as basketball or tennis, etc. 

The American National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) has produced a really handy video for people with limited mobility or tetraplegia, containing some brilliant chair aerobic exercises that you can do easily at home. Watch it below. 



Yoga exercises

Yoga is proven to be really beneficial, both for strengthening your body and relaxing your mind. 

101 Mobility has put together a list of top video tutorials for wheelchair yoga, suitable for different levels of ability. This video, for example, involves a 30-minute beginners yoga workout routine. 



Remember, it’s important not to overextend yourself and only do what you can manage. If you have any underlying health conditions, it might be wise to consult your doctor before trying any new workouts. 


From all of us at Multicare, take care and stay safe!

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