We find a lot of people struggle to retain their activity levels if they have problems with standing or walking. This is to be expected but spending a lot of time sitting down isn’t good for the body or the mind, so it’s important to keep both as active as possible, within the remits of your own health and physical condition. Going from being active to struggling with everyday tasks is difficult to cope with, which can in turn then impact on mental health as well as physical.

We have found that chair-based exercises are a great way to keep the body moving, and also provide mental stimulation and give the mind a focus and target. This will also help keep the blood flowing well, improving circulation, which is in turn good for the heart.

Chair Based Activities

Please note, you should always check with your GP before you start any type of exercise program.

Upper Body

  • Upper back flexibility – place your feet flat on the floor and sit upright in the chair. Cross your arms across your chest and reach for your shoulders. Turn to the left as far as is comfortable and hold this position for 5 seconds – do not move your hips during the turn. Repeat this on the right side. Repeat for 5 repetitions. You want to aim for 3 sets of 5 repetitions daily for optimum flexibility.
  • Neck mobility and flexibility – sit in the chair and look straight ahead. Your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Turn your head towards your left shoulder slowly as far as possible, then hold this position for 5 seconds. Turn your head back to the centre, then slowly turn it to the right, hold for 5 seconds, then return to centre. Aim for 3 rotations on each side daily.
  • Loosening neck muscles – sit upright, look ahead and place your right hand across your chest to rest on your left shoulder. Tilt your head to the right slowly, with your hand keeping your shoulder down. Repeat to the left, aiming to hold each stretch for 5 seconds. Repeat for 3 repetitions daily.


  • Shoulder strength – sit upright in your chair and let your arms hang by your sides. Turn your palms so they are facing forward and then raise both arms out and to the side, as far up as you can/ hold for 2-3 seconds then return to the original starting position. You must try to keep your shoulders down and your arms straight and concentrate on maintaining normal breathing. Repeat 5 times daily.


  • Inner thigh strengthening – place a soft ball between the thighs, a little higher than your knees. Place your feet flat on the floor and sit up straight. Squeeze the ball inward with your knees for 2-3 seconds and then relax. Repeat this for 8-10 repetitions. Eventually you want to aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily.
  • Hip & thigh strengthening – sit straight in your chair without leaning against the back. Hold onto the sides with both hands and lift your left leg upwards with your knee bent. Your right foot should remain flat on the floor. Hold this for 5 seconds and then repeat with the right leg. Aim to do 5 lifts with each leg daily.
  • Ankle flexibility – this exercise will also lower the risk of developing blood clots, so an important one to maintain on a daily basis. Sit upright in your chair and hold on the sides with your hands. Lift your left leg straight up with your toes upright, then point them away. Point them back, then lower your foot back to the floor. Aim for 2 stretches of 5 per leg daily.