Chair based movement 1

Part 1 – Introduction, objectives and warm ups

This guide has been put together by Debbie Lee-Anthony, one of our Elevate artists.  Debbie delivers her sessions for Elevate in the day room at Victoria Hospital, Wimborne, but has provided this guide for running your own similar sessions. Debbie has outlined suggested themes, ideas and exercises, including music choices. N.B. Patients should listen to their own bodies’ responses at all times and work within their own limitations.


Session duration – introduction, warm up and main theme followed by cool down approx. 45-60 mins


Objectives of session

  • Increase strength and flexibility through gentle static exercises
  • Raise the heart to a moderate level, as appropriate for each individual
  • Encourage creativity and imagination through music, imagery and props
  • Provide an opportunity for social interaction in a friendly and safe environment
  • Bring enjoyment exercising, moving and expressing to a wide range of music



  • Begin with introducing yourself and getting to know each participant’s name. I chat with patients whilst waiting for others to join the group.
  • Briefly outline the structure of the session so that participants know what to expect from the session. Each session will include a warm-up, which sometimes includes a game with props or objects, a main theme and close with a cool down.
  • Music is carefully chosen for each element of the session and often spans several decades, incorporating genres such as classical, pop, jazz and world music. I believe that music is a great motivator, so choosing well known music is helpful and also encourages cherished memories.
  • Most of the stretches introduced within the session are static stretches, seated, executed from a chair or wheel-chair and these are followed by gentle mobility exercises. I remind the patients to listen to their own bodies’ responses at all times and to work within their own limitations.
  • It is important that the session is fun and lively and everyone engages at their own level, and, importantly, to support their individual physiotherapy treatments.


Examples of introductory warm-ups and games


Whilst keeping a red balloon in the air, patients name something red or an association with red (alter according to the colour of balloon used). Other options might be to name a vegetable, a town or country or perhaps something associated with the current season, e.g. summer, Easter, Christmas etc. This often induces laughter and is a good ice breaker. Alternatively, use a soft ball, checking first if anyone is unable to receive the ball, due to arthritic hands, etc.


Giant scrunchie or stretchy band

In a seated circle, holding on to a giant elasticated band (see image below). Each person follows the facilitator with gentle swaying side to side, raising arms up & down, rowing, punching etc. N.B. Patients move according to individual mobility as appropriate to their convalescing body.

Suggested music: ‘Working my way back to you’ – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; ‘La Vida Es un Carnival’- Salsa Latin 100% compilation.



The octaband is a playful interactive tool. Use as per the giant scrunchie, each patient holds either one leg or two of the bright lycra band (see image below). Gentle jiving and shakes, again stress the level of movement to be in accordance with individual range of mobility.

Suggested music: ‘Jump Jive and Wail’- Tony Evans; ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ or ‘Rock around the clock’ -Bill Hayley and the Comets; ‘Let’s twist again’ – Chubby Checker.


Static stretching

Reaching and extending arms above the head (if able), to diagonals (open and across body), reaching one arm forward then slow circular motion. Gentle movements to lift head, lengthen the neck and open the chest. I often give each patient a short stretchy plaited rope to encourage slightly deeper stretching; this can be placed under the foot, knee, etc. (see image below). Gentle side bends, adding the arm, gentle upper torso twist, using chair as support. Variations: imagery of the potter shaping out of clay/moulding/sculpting etc, the focus is on encouraging creative movement here; idea of a concert pianist, expressing detail with fingers and hands; flower arranging, delicate placing and gesturing with hands.

Suggested music: ‘Discovery at night’- Ludovico Einaudi; ’Ombra mai fu’ – George Frideric Handel; ‘Piano quintet op 44 or Piano quartet op 47 – Robert Schumann; ‘When I am laid in earth’ – Henry Purcell.


Mobility exercises

Sitting tall as able, long spine, shoulders back: gentle rhythmic patting legs, claps, clicking fingers, jive hands, circling wrists, shoulder circles, shoulder shrugs, hand to shoulder circle elbows, seated trunk twists. Gradually adding feet exercises: stepping side to side, forward & back, circling ankles, seated marching, leg raises, gentle leg kicks etc.

Suggested music: ‘Straighten up and fly right’ – Nat King Cole; ‘In the summertime’ – Mungo Jerry; ‘On the sunny side of the street’ – Louis Armstrong; ‘When I’m 64’ – Beatles; ‘Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps’ – Doris Day.


Part 2 – the main session

Following on from the warm up and introduction, you are ready to move onto the main theme of the session followed by a cool-down – part 2 instructions here.


Download instructions

Download chair based movement and music sessions instructions Part 1 (pdf)