Exercise is an important part of physical health. It's recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes, or 2 and a half hours, of aerobic exercise per week, with an appropriate level of strength training at least twice a week. For people who are unable to perform standing exercises like running or weight-lifting safely, this can be difficult to accomplish.

Luckily, there are many seated exercises. These exercises tend to produce less strain on the body, making them ideal for people with disabilities, struggles with balance, or circumstances that don't permit them to stand while exercising.

Chair Yoga

Stretching can help relieve pain and prevent injury from more strenuous exercise. It should become a part of any fitness routine. Chair yoga can be especially beneficial for those looking to improve their balance at a lower risk of falling. There are many simple but effective poses for increasing strength. As with any yoga, chair yoga practitioners should focus on breathing and avoid straining or jerking movements.

A woman doing yoga using chair Koldunov / Getty Images


Arm Circles

Arm circles are a simple but effective aerobic exercise. While seated, a person simply stretches their arms to the sides, palms facing down, and makes small circles in the air. Try first making the circles in a forward direction and then roll backward, at least ten circles in each direction at a time. If this is easy or strength is improving, holding small weights can add a challenge.

Group of people sitting with their arms on their side miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images


Seated Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are a core aerobic exercise and they can be done from a chair. The person simply sits towards the front of their chair and moves their arms and legs in the same motions as a standing jumping jack. It's important to do the motions smoothly, without jerking, and to stop if the motion becomes too painful.


Seated Leg Extensions

While seated firmly against the back of a chair stretch one leg out directly in front, flex the toes upward, and then hold that position for three seconds. Repeating a leg extension works out the muscles of the leg and back while also offering a small aerobic work out.

Senior woman stretching legs while sitting on chair BakiBG / Getty Images


Front Arm Raises

To help strengthen the arms and shoulder, a person should, from a seated position, hold their arms down straight at their sides with palms facing behind them. They then raise their arm at the shoulder, so their palm is parallel to the floor and smoothly bring their arm back to their sides again. This exercise can also be done with small free weights or soup cans in each hand.

Three women lifting weights together on exercise balls Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images



Dancing is an excellent full-body workout. Depending on the speed and intensity of the motion, dancing can stretch out muscles, increase heart rate, and be a lot of fun. It's perfectly possible to dance from a seated position, whether by following an online video or by simply turning on music and moving to the beat.

Joyful Arabic woman in hijab listening music in wireless headphones in office and dancing while sitting at desk Prostock-studio / Shutterstock


Crazy Eights

Crazy Eights is a fun aerobic exercise typically done in a group setting. The person begins seated at the front of their chair. They will then count to eight while shaking their hand in time. They repeat the process with their other hand and both legs in turn. At this point, they start again, but faster and only counting to four. Then the count is two. Then one. Once they've completed the final count, the person usually shouts "Crazy Eights", an addition that's not required but adds to the fun. It's important to start slowly and not force the movement.

Woman sitting in chair stretching one leg forward buritora / Shutterstock


Leg Raises

Leg raises can be done while lying down. There are a few varieties, but one of the simplest exercises is to simply raise one's leg from the bed, mat, or floor up into the air and to hold it there for a few seconds before smoothly lowering it. These exercises can be particularly beneficial for those with knee pain that makes standing and balancing difficult.

Senior woman sitting on floor with one leg raised and stretching JohnnyGreig / Getty Images


Bicycle Kicks

Core exercises are also possible from a sitting or lying position. Those who have the access or ability may enjoy using a bicycle machine. Those who do not can replicate the motion at home. Simply lift legs off the bed or out in front and then slowly move as if peddling an invisible bicycle. This can be as fast or as slow as desired, though the movement should be smooth and consistent.

Man using modern bicycle trainer at home dima_sidelnikov / Getty Images


Chair Tai Chi

Sometimes compared to yoga, tai chi is a unique exercise form combines stretching and smooth movement into a strength exercise in which the body is continuously following through a single motion. The smooth, continuous motion helps practitioners gauge their limits and avoid injury. Most tai chi poses can be performed while seated, but there are also specific chair-based tai chi classes online or sometimes in local community centers.

Senior women stretching while sitting on chair SilviaJansen / Getty Images


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