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Free chair exercises for those with mobility problems

Updated on April 22, 2011

I didn’t realize until I really started looking into it, but it is very difficult to find exercises for people with mobility problems on the Internet for free. Many people with mobility disabilities do not have that much money to spend but still need to exercise. There are lots of exercises for seniors, lots of exercises for those in wheelchairs, but not too many exercises for those like me who are under 65, can still walk, but can’t do floor based exercises or jump and run around. Certainly a lot of the senior’s exercises can be used by those in my circumstances. However, it would be nice if there were more exercises for the rest of us with mobility problems, no matter what our age.

For several years, my exercise regime has been limited to walking around my apartment or office, getting in and out of cars, and occasionally climbing a few stairs on the mobility service bus I take to work. Walking long distances is out, especially in the winter. Walking up and down stairs is impossible for me. I cannot do floor exercises because I can’t get up again without dragging myself onto the couch and I cannot jump or run in place. It’s hard to find a decent exercise system.



Like many people who suffer from mobility problems I started gaining weight. It is a vicious circle; you do less exercise because of mobility problems, you gain weight and your mobility problems worsen due to carrying that extra weight. I knew that I had to start getting more cardio exercise and that I had to lose weight so I started looking around the net for some exercises that I could do. I found that those exercises were not easy to find.

Free Exercises

A lot of the places I researched online had vague recommendations of the type of exercises but did not show or describe specific exercises. This article will strive to change that and to be a one-stop place to find decent and free exercises for the mobility challenged.


Chair Exercises

One thing really catching on is chair exercises. There are several types of chair exercises from ta’i chi, to aerobics, to stretching, and even to dancing. However, most of the systems I found were not free. There are several that I did find that are free for all. I have tried all the exercises that are listed here.


The proper stance for chair tai-chi is sitting with your legs shoulder width apart, sitting so your back is supported, and keeping your spine straight.

Upper body:

These exercises were found here. I tried both these exercises and I really could feel it in my arms.

Say a Little Prayer for Me

1. Hold your hands in front of you with the palms together, as if praying

2. Take a deep breath and raise your hands, still together, above your head

3. Part your hands while you slowly exhale

4. Lower your arms to a horizontal position

5. Push your arms back as far as you can

6. Repeat up to 5 times

Palms on Thighs

1. Place the palms of your hands on your upper thighs

2. Inhale while pushing your right arm up with the palm facing the ceiling and your left arm pushing down with the palm facing the floor

3. Exhale slowly while returning hands to thighs

4. Tense your stomach muscles and diaphragm

5. Hold this until you need to take another breath

6. Repeat with alternate hands

7. Repeat up to 10 times

Lower body:

Chair Tai-Chi has as many chair tai-chi exercises as you could ever use, they are currently up to #148. The following exercises are adapted from their site.


1. Place 5 rolled up socks in front of your right foot

2. Sit on edge of chair

3. Breathe in and out several times

4. Pick up each pair of socks with toes of your right foot

5. Place each pair near left foot

6. Repeat with the left food

7. Repeat twice

Leg lift

1. Lift your right leg up in front of you

2. Breathe out

3. Point your toes

4. Pull back toes towards ankle

5. Change legs

6. Repeat up to twelve times.

Paul Eugene is the king motivator

Adapted Exercises

Many regular exercises can be adapted to be performed while sitting on a chair. This article has several ideas of the type of exercises that will work while sitting down. This one appears on that site:

Seated jumping jacks

1. Sit up in the chair

2. Spread feet shoulder-width apart

3. Cross your legs in air

4. Put legs back on floor

5. Repeat 20 times.

Chair Yoga

I was excited to discover chair yoga. I have always heard of the great health benefits of yoga but have never been able to practice it. I found a few great videos on YouTube that show you how to do some of the exercises. This one came from the video below:

Abdominal exercise

1. Sit up in the chair

2. Hold onto both sides

3. Keep your abdominal muscles tight

4. Straighten your leg as much as you can and lift it straight up

5. Lower the leg to the ground and repeat with the other leg

6. Do as many as you can

A good beginning

There should be enough exercises for you to get started with a routine of chair exercises. There are exercises for the upper body and the lower body. I plan to do all of these regularly, please let me know if they are helpful or even add some of your favorite exercises in the comment.

Here is to getting healthy!

This article is copyright 2011 by Susan Keeping.
This article is copyright 2011 by Susan Keeping.

I am by no stretch of the imagination a professional fitness instructor, but I have tried all the exercises I have mentioned in the article. As with most exercise programs, it is advised that you consult your doctor before starting a regular chair fitness routine.


Submit a Comment

  • pinappu profile image

    pinappu 5 years ago from India

    Exercises from chair...a great idea indeed. Some exercises are really good.

  • Ehnaira05 profile image

    Ehnaira05 6 years ago from Charlotte, Florida

    I find your hub so interesting, good job.

  • N.E. Wright profile image

    N.E. Wright 6 years ago from Bronx, NY

    My father has gained so much weight, and he could surely use the exercises you have mentioned.

    Thank you so much for sharing this useful article.

    Take Care,


  • Sinea Pies profile image

    Sinea Pies 6 years ago from Northeastern United States

    My dad is having real trouble getting around. With some coaxing he has agreed to go with me to a seniors' chair exercise class. I hope he'll like it and continue to go.

    Good hub!

  • Tamila Roberts profile image

    Tamila Roberts 6 years ago from Canada

    Great exercises! Its definitely a plus to know someone such as you.

  • profile image

    CollB 6 years ago

    Extremely useful hub. I'll pass on this information to a family member.

  • crystolite profile image

    Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

    Great hub thanks for sharing.

  • Shirley Anderson profile image

    Shirley Anderson 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Great hub, Susan! I'd be willing to bet that this will be a popular hub, especially since there is a shortage of valuable info for this important topic.

    I don't have a mobility problem but I'm going to try the yoga one, myself.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks Sally.

  • Sally's Trove profile image

    Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    These are wonderful exercises that anyone can follow by reading your words. Step-by-step well done. I know because I tried them all using your words.

    I'd like to add that some community senior centers offer adaptive exercise programs at no cost. My mother has been in an exercise program at her center, two days a week, for years.

    Yours is a wonderful routine, found on the Internet for free, and I hope many find it and use it.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you will find it helpful.

  • profile image

    Wooded 6 years ago

    What an excellent hub for people that have difficulties with traditional exercises. Best of luck with your fitness program. I will be passing this on to a good friend who will greatly appreciate it. Thanks

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

    Perfect timing, my Mom just had a stroke and will be in a wheelchair for a while. She was otherwise a young fit viable woman and your wheel chair for those with mobility problems is a blessing. thanks :) Katie

  • Granny's House profile image

    Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

    Great hub. I know many that would benefit from this hub. Will share

  • profile image

    boxxies 6 years ago

    Excellent article giving good advice for chair exercices.


  • ThunderKeys profile image

    ThunderKeys 6 years ago

    Very practical chair exercises! Good for Hub-writers who sit and write all day! I'm lifting and rotating my left foot as I type. Thank you. -Duddy.