Arthritis exercises – the five workouts you can do without leaving your sofa

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Don’t listen to anyone about couch potatoes: you can do plenty of exercises to tackle arthritis while sitting on a comfortable chair or sofa. If you want to improve your mobility, gain confidence and build up your strength, look no further than these five exercises.

Staying active as you get older is one of the most effective ways to keep serious health conditions at bay.

Exercise can lower your blood pressure, which reduces your risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as alleviating joint pain and improving strength.

OK, you may not be as active as you once were. Your flexibility might be getting a bit worse as stiffness creeps into your joints.

But there are still some simple and effective exercises you can do to improve your strength, without even having to leave your chair.

Chair-based exercises are proven to help maintain and promote independence and mobility in older people, with the NHS recommending over-65s take part in sitting exercises at least twice a week.

By following our armchair athletes’ routine, you can get stronger, improve your flexibility and balance and reduce your risk of arthritic pain.

Best of all, you don’t even need to get up from the sofa.

A wellness navigator from Inspired Villages said: “Chair-based exercise programmes are generally better than that of standing or dynamic exercise for older people and those with low levels of fitness and function.

“Not only can they stabilise the lower spine by providing a fixed base (particularly important for those with kyphosis or lordosis of the spine), but they also can facilitate a greater range of movement and support, minimise load-bearing, and reduce balance problems in those with particularly poor mobility and arthritic pain.

“This means chair-based exercises are invaluable for the rehabilitation of older people with osteoarthritis, as it allows a range of motion without the need for weights.

“Other benefits are an increase in confidence among those unable to perform free-standing exercise, meanwhile, just one session of seated exercise can help improve memory recall.”

Here are five exercises you can do from the comfort of your chair:

Arm raises and extensions

Sitting on your chair, sit upright trying to pull your chest up. Imagine there’s a string pulling you up from the top of your head.

Stretch your arms out to the side and up as far as you can manage, keeping your shoulders down, before gently lowering them again.

Repeat this five times, breathing in as you lift your arms, and out as you put them back down.

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Seated chest press using a lightweight inflatable ball to build shoulder strength

You’ll need an inflatable ball, like a football for this one.

Sitting up in your chair, lift the football straight out in front of you, holding it with both hands and keeping your shoulders down.

Bring the ball into your chest, bending your elbows out to the side and making sure your shoulders don’t creep up.

Repeat five times, take a short break, and then repeat five more times.

Upper body shoulder twists

Sit in your chair with your feet planted on the floor.

Try to keep your hips still, and facing forward, as you twist your upper body to the right as far as you can.

As you turn to the right, gently punch out your left arm.

Try to complete this exercise five times, before repeating on the other side.

Hip marching

Sit up in your chair so your back is no longer touching the backrest but is a couple of inches away from the furniture.

Lift your leg with your knee bent as far as you can manage, and place it down again slowly.

Repeat this marching motion five times on each leg.

This exercise will strengthen your thigh muscles, while increasing your hip flexibility.

Shoulder and neck stretches to loosen tight muscles

Sitting up in your chair, look straight ahead and hold your right shoulder down with your left hand.

Slowly tilt your head over to the left while keeping hold of your shoulder, you should feel the stretch in your neck.

Try to hold this stretch for five seconds before gently releasing. Repeat three times on each side.

Exercises you can do while sitting in a chair are a great start, and have been shown to be effective, but you should look at these as a starting point.

If you are able to complete these exercises easily, try pushing yourself by going for a longer, or brisker, walk.

Your balance and mobility should be stronger from your chair-based exercises, but take things at your own pace.

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