Welcome to our guide to exercises in a wheelchair everyone can do!

Whether you’re a wheelchair user or simply looking for inclusive fitness ideas, these practical exercises can be done comfortably from a seated position. They are tailored to enhance strength and mobility.

At Free Wheelchair Mission, we know the importance of movement and exercise. That’s why the month of May is our Move for Mobility, which is a fully accessible fundraising event that encourages participants to move however and wherever they choose (this includes exercises in a wheelchair!).

Special thanks to our friends, Dr. Gabby Rivera from More Than Physical Therapy and wheelchair user and ambassador Gretchen D’Souza, for sharing these exercises in a wheelchair everyone can do!

Three people stretching arms up while seated.

Three Exercises in a Wheelchair or From a Seated Position

  1. Core Strengthening Exercise: Sit upright in your wheelchair, engage your core, and slowly reach down towards the floor. Feel the stretch in your torso as you reach. Then, return to the starting position. Repeat this movement several times. To increase the challenge, hold a weight while performing this exercise. Strengthening your core is crucial for everyday tasks like reaching for items on lower shelves or accessing items in high places.
  2. Trunk Rotation: Sit upright and hold a light weight or resistance band with both hands. Slowly rotate your torso to one side, keeping your core engaged. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the center. Repeat on the other side. This exercise helps build strength in your back, core, and oblique muscles, which is essential for wheelchair users who need to twist and reach for objects.
  3. Diagonal Lift: This exercise mimics the movement of lifting objects from the floor—a common task for everyone, including wheelchair users. Sit upright in your wheelchair and hold a weight in one hand. Lift the weight diagonally across your body, reaching towards the opposite shoulder. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. This exercise helps improve overall strength and mobility.

Important Tips

Please remember that it’s important to listen to your body and only do what feels comfortable. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop the exercise immediately.

These exercises are designed to help you improve your strength and mobility, so take your time and enjoy the process. Incorporate them into your routine and feel the difference in your core strength and trunk support!

And, be sure to check out the Move for Mobility, which runs throughout the month of May and is free to sign up for! MoveforMobility.org

Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice that takes your personal needs into consideration.