7 Easy chair exercises you can do at home

chair exercises

by Lorna White |
Updated on

Whether you struggle to exercise due to mobility issues or illness or are looking for easy ways to keep fit in your day-to-day life, chair exercises can be an effective and easy home workout for many people.

Seated exercises or chair based exercises as they’re often called are often performed once per day for a short period of time and aim to gradually build up your strength and fitness as you go. It’s the perfect form of exercise and often the only form of exercise many people can do, particularly for those recovering from injury, people with heart conditions or people in wheelchairs who want to incorporate some mobility exercises into their daily routine.

The chair exercises are designed to work your legs, shoulders, upper arms chest and core to help with balance and strength using home workout items you'll find in the house. This allows you to really get a full body work out in during your session and target specific muscles.

How to do chair exercises

While there are often many different classes and sessions you can attend at your local gym or leisure centre, there are also plenty of chair exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home.

All you need is a sturdy chair, a spacious room and around 10 minutes per day to get you started. We’ve put together seven chair exercises to get you started.

Toe lifts

This is a really simple yet effective move to get you started. Simply sit on the chair with your arms relaxed at the side of you and your feet on the ground in a parallel position. Slowly lift your toes, pointing them to the sky to stretch out and strengthen your calf muscles. Repeat this a few times on each foot.


Seated with your arms out in front of you, mimic the upper body motion of rowing by slowly pulling your arms back towards you while keeping your elbows inline with your shoulders as you would on a rowing machine. Squeezing the shoulder blades together, this helps strengthen your shoulders and torso muscles. Repeat 10 times.

Leg extension

Seated with your feet in parallel, raise each leg by extending your knee so your foot is pointing out parallel from your hip. Alternate this movement with five extensions on each leg. This move helps to strengthen your quad muscles and your core making it a good exercise to improve mobility.

Seated jumping jack

For this one, start with your arms stretched out to each side. Begint the movement by opening your legs out at the knees and landing your feet diagonally open front of you while simultaneously moving your arms up to meet over your head. You can do this as slowly or quickly as you feel comfortable and if you want to make it even harder, you could add a resistance band to your thighs.

Seated cross crunch

Place your hands behind your head as you would when doing a sit up. Begin this exercise by pulling up your knee across your body to meet with the opposite elbow in a cruch style. They don’t have to touch but you should aim to get your elbow as close as you can to your opposite knee to help strengthen your core.

Marching can strengthen your hips

This one is simple to get the hang of as all you need to do is sit down and march your legs to a beat. It might help to put one of your favourite upbeat songs on for this one to help you keep in time. Not only can this act as a cardio work out but it also helps strengthen the hips.

Upper body twist for flexibility

With your arms crossed over your torso, slowly rotate your upper body side to side, seeing how far you can turn your upper body to boost your flexibility. This is great if you need a good stretch after a workout.

How effective are chair exercises and do they work?

chair exercise class

According to Age UK, chair exercises have many benefits for people with mobility issues or those who struggle with more intense forms of exercise. Particularly, as we get older, we lose a lot of our bone density and our muscles weaken. Any form of gentle exercise such as chair exercises can help maintain our strength. An extra bonus is that these exercises can also help improve our posture and alignment of the spine.

As well as helping our muscle strength and posture, chair exercises are also beneficial for our circulation too. This has huge benefits for our recovery time when it comes to injury and illness. Not only this, but you’re much less likely to injure yourself when exercising if doing chair based exercises so they’re great if you’re uneasy on your feet these days or more prone to injury.

Finally, attending a chair exercise class can have a brilliant impact on our self-esteem and social life. They’re a great place to meet friends while keeping fit and healthy. There are different kinds of chair exercises you can have a go at including chair yoga, which is particularly great for flexibility.

Chair exercises can be done at your office or desk or wherever you're seated, as you don't need a lot of space to carry out these exercises.

Can chair exercises help you lose weight?

The amount of weight you can lose by doing chair based exercises can vary. On average, it’s thought you can burn between 120 and 250 calories during a 30 minute chair workout.

With the addition of things to make your workout harder, such as adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands or ankle weights, the number of calories you burn can increase.


Lorna White is a Senior Digital Writer at Yours.co.uk and MotherandBaby.com. She was previously a writer at Yours Magazine writing features and news stories before joining the digital team. Lorna loves the great British countryside and likes to spend her spare time out and about in her home of Nottinghamshire walking her dog, Pippin.

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