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Take a Seat and Try These 10 Physical Activity Ideas for Older Adults with Mobility Limitations

Don’t let a physical ailment or chronic condition keep you or a loved one you care for from getting health-boosting exercise!

If you are unable to stand or walk for long periods of time, you may be looking for fun and effective exercises you can do from the comfort of a chair. Don’t miss this essential top 10 list:

Medicine Ball Moves

The versatility of a simple medicine ball is quite impressive. Sitting down, you can lift, throw, toss, drop, and move a weighted medicine ball around, giving your core, shoulders, arms, and upper back quite the workout.

Ask your physical therapist or a knowledgeable trainer at your gym for seated medicine ball exercise recommendations.

Water Aerobics

The wonderful weightlessness of water makes it a prime environment for exercising when you cannot stand or walk for long periods of time. With appropriate flotation devices, you can take part in swimming, water aerobics, aqua jogging, and more.

Balloon Volleyball

Practice hand-eye coordination and have a blast with a quick game of balloon volleyball with some friends or the grandkids.

Essentially, have everyone sit in a chair in equal lines across from one another. Set up a net (or use something in its place like a couple of chairs) and then go about tapping balloons back and forth to each other. Just don’t forget to have someone on hand to fetch balloons that go awry!

Gentle Yoga

Standing or sitting, yoga can generate powerful effects for your mind and body through its stretching, posing, meditating, and deep breathing practices. Check out this helpful gentle yoga guide from Sixty and Me to get started.

Light Weightlifting

Dumbbells, kettlebells, wrist and ankle weights… there are plenty of powerful moves you can do with free weights from the comfort of your chair. Consult an expert trainer at your gym or ask your physical therapist for best practices and weightlifting recommendations.


The Latin dance-based fitness craze called Zumba is no stranger to people with mobility issues. It can be modified for someone sitting in a chair by adding even more dynamic arm movements and simplifying steps, i.e., doing toe taps instead of salsa steps.

Chair Cardio

Strengthen your heart and break a sweat with a fast-paced aerobic workout you do right in your seat. You might be surprised how much your heart rate can increase when you are doing targeted stretches, arm raises, core twists, and more! Check YouTube for loads of free chair cardio videos you can stream.

Resistance Bands

Lightweight, colorful resistance bands are as easy to use as they are to pack and travel with. Simply slide one below or behind your chair (or around a nearby sturdy structure) and grab the ends with your hands to practice pulling, tugging, and stretching in a variety of motions.

This type of accessible strength training can improve your overall functional fitness to make other daily tasks, like carrying groceries, easier.

Weight Machines

Weight machines can look fairly daunting at the gym, but many, like cross cable machines, can actually be adjusted to work for people who are in a wheelchair or other type of seat. Check with your local gym to see what wheelchair-friendly machines can be set up for you.

Arm Cycle

Whether it’s an ergometer (stationary arm bicycle) at the gym or a lightweight portable pedal exerciser you use at home, arm cycling can be done sitting down and is a great way to get your heart rate up, mobilize and loosen joints, and improve circulation.

Quick Seated Fitness Reminders

Because you won’t have all the strength and power that your legs provide during standing exercises, it’s important to properly support your upper body when taking part in seated activities.

Elbow sleeves and arm supports can help protect your upper body joints during chair exercises and weightlifting or wheelchair gloves can protect your hands during strength-training activities.

Don’t forget, too, that even though you are sitting and exercising, you’re losing fluids through perspiration. Stay hydrated, get creative, find a workout partner, and have fun!

What are your favorite seated exercises to do? If you care for an aging parent, do you think they would enjoy these types of physical activities? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts with our community!

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The Author

Jessica Hegg is the content manager at Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living a healthy lifestyle. Through her writing, she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others. You can find her on Twitter @Jessica_Hegg.

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