Physical Therapy Exercises You Can Do in a Wheelchair

Keeping up with physical therapy exercises after leaving inpatient rehab is important for all stroke survivors to continue on the path to recovery. Whether you have regained full mobility or need the assistance of a wheelchair, you will still have to find ways to exercise your entire body. 

While you are building strength, getting in and out of your chair can be difficult and dangerous. At the same time, you will be more likely to keep up with an exercise regimen that’s convenient, enjoyable and delivers the increased mobility you want. If possible, work with your physical therapist to adapt exercises for your specific needs to be done in your chair. 

Finally, finding a wheelchair that allows for the range of motion you need to exercise your arms, legs and core will make your recovery process much faster and easier. The FLUX Dart features armrests that flip up and no bulky headrest to get in your way. You can see in the image below that the seat will not restrict your legs from moving side to side either. The lightweight, breathable fabric will keep you cool and dry while you exercise. Use the brakes to keep your Dart in place, and tilt and lock the seat in any position to suit each activity.

Check out the FLUX Dart now!

If you need a little more inspiration for exercises you can do in your chair, take a look at these videos:

Seated Exercises for Stroke Recovery

Post-stroke seated arm exercises

These exercises require a friend to help you! Gently extend and contract your arm and hand muscles to get a sense of where you have the most strength while building range of motion.


From a seated position, have your helper lift your arm up to shoulder level facing straight ahead, then out to the side with your elbow bent, thumb facing up. Go gently the first time you try this!

Post-stroke balance exercises

This video shows balance-building exercises in both seated and standing positions. Practice moving lightweight items across the midline of your body to build up your balance, prevent falls and start moving around your home with more confidence. 


Sit in front of a low table and position two surfaces to your left and right, within reaching distance. Place a can of soup, a plastic cup or another small item on each surface and practice reaching to grab them with your left hand, bringing each item to your chest, and then putting them back. Repeat with your right arm.

Seated exercises for upper body

Once you are able to do some moving on your own, strengthen your arms and upper body with these exercises. Be sure to get your arm rests out of the way!


Sit up tall and take some deep breaths before you begin. Start by tilting your right ear towards your shoulder 5-10 times and repeat with the left. Shrug your shoulders up and down, rotate your shoulders in circles forward and backwards, and move both arms in a rowing motion.

Seated exercises for lower body

Even if you can’t stand or walk, you can work on building up your lower body strength with these seated exercises. Engage the brakes on your chair to keep it in place.


First, alternate moving your legs up and down in a simple marching motion for about 20 reps (10 on each side). Next, move your right leg out to the side and back, and repeat with the left leg, alternating for 10 reps on each leg.

Simple seated core exercises

Building strength in your core improves balance and amplifies the work you do with your arms and legs. Move forward just a bit in your seat to rotate left and right and get more out of your seated sit-ups. 

Sit up tall and lift your arms to shoulder height, rotating your core to look left and right. For seated sit-ups, slide forward in your chair and lean back, keeping your back straight, then return to upright position. Repeat 5-10 times.

Click on a video link above to watch the entire workout. Try a different one every day, and don’t forget to reward yourself for making progress! 

Order your own FLUX Dart to get the best workout without leaving your chair.