How to Do Weight-Bearing Exercises When Sitting in a Chair


If you're confined to a wheelchair or have limited mobility, you may think that it's impossible for you to do the weight-bearing exercises that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a healthy lifestyle. Not true. You can do a number of weight-bearing exercises right from your chair, working your arms, abdominals and legs. If you have health concerns or you haven't worked out in a long time, talk to your doctor to get the OK to start weight training.

Things You'll Need

  • Dumbbells
  • Position your feet on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle, if possible. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, your shoulders back and your back straight throughout each exercise.

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, position your upper arms at your sides and point your wrists upward, with your hands resting on your thighs. Raise one hand upward, stopping when the dumbbell is just in front of your shoulder. Lower the dumbbell to the starting position and then raise the opposite hand in the same manner. Repeat this bicep curl exercise 12 to 15 times with each arm.

  • Keep holding the dumbbells, but this time allow your hands to hang down at your sides, with your arms straight. For this exercise, it may be easier to use a chair without arms, if possible. Raise both arms upward, stopping when your arms form a "T" position relative to the rest of your body. Slowly lower your arms to the starting position and then repeat the exercise 12 to 15 times.

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position your arms in a "goalpost" position, with your lower arms raised to shoulder-height and parallel with the floor, while your upper arms are at a 90-degree angle to the lower arms, your palms facing forward. Press your arms upward, stopping when your arms are fully extended overhead. Move back to the starting position and repeat the exercise 12 to 15 times.

  • Hold the seat of the chair, brace your abdominals and then raise one foot off the floor a few inches. Hold the position for a few seconds and then repeat the movement with the other leg. Repeat the leg lift on each side a total of 12 to 15 times to strengthen the muscles of the thigh and abdominals.

  • Sit all the way back on the chair and raise your heels off the floor, allowing your toes and the balls of your feet to stay on the floor. Lift and straighten one leg, raising it so that it is parallel with the floor. Lower the leg back down and then lift the other leg in the same manner. Repeat the exercise with each leg 12 to 15 times to strengthen the muscles of the thighs.

Tips & Warnings

  • For the dumbbell exercises, you'll know you're using an adequate amount of weight when the last few repetitions of each set are difficult to complete. If you can't complete a full set of 12 to 15 repetitions of an exercise, move down to a lighter weight. If your muscles don't feel fatigued at the end of the set, add more weight. Another option: Use soup cans or anything with a little bit of weight, and then move up to dumbbells as you get stronger.

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