General health

5 easy chair exercises

Want to build your strength and fitness levels? If you have mobility issues, this five-point chair exercise routine from our partner The British Heart Foundation is an excellent place to start. Whether you’re a wheelchair user or just spend a lot of time sitting down, the right moves will let you warm up and build strength at the same time.

Personal trainer Hyde Phillips, who created this activity plan for Heart Matters, says: “Collectively, the exercises cover almost every muscle group. They can be performed back to back as part of a circuit. I recommend doing the whole set of exercises for five to ten minutes per session, once per day to begin with. Gradually increase the duration and frequency as you feel more comfortable.”

Start each exercise sitting upright and slightly away from the back of the chair, with a straight spine and both feet flat on the floor. Hold the sides of the chair if you want to. Try to do each one at a steady, slow-to-moderate speed. Counting out loud with each repetition can help you breathe naturally. Rest between exercises if needed but keep feet moving to help with circulation.

1. Knee extensions

  • Keep both knees together with your feet on the floor. Straighten one leg out in front of you.
  • Hold for one second, then slowly re-bend the leg until the foot is resting on the floor again.
  • Repeat on the other leg. Do a few extensions with each leg.

2. Seated row

  • Hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level, with your thumbs pointed towards the ceiling.
  • Draw your elbows back, squeezing the shoulder blades together, until your upper arms align with the sides of your torso.
  • Extend your arms back to the start position.
  • Repeat a few times.

3. Toe lifts


  • Lift the toes of both feet, leaving your heels on the floor.
  • Replace your toes and lift your heels, gently squeezing your calf muscles as you do.
  • Repeat with your legs almost straight out in front of you.

4. Seated march

  • Lift your left leg, with your knee bent, as far as is comfortable.
  • Place foot down with control.
  • Repeat with the right leg. Do a few lifts with each leg.

5. Overhead press

  • Bend your arms up, so your wrists are by your shoulders.
  • With control, slowly punch diagonally up and across your body with one arm, while slightly rotating your torso in the same direction.
  • Return to the start position, then switch to the other arm. Repeat a few times on each side.
The British Heart Foundation By The British Heart Foundation Published 17/04/2020