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The 9 Best Non Weight Bearing Exercises

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

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non weight bearing exercises

Non weight bearing exercises are exercises that you can do without having to stand. This removes any weight from your feet or legs. Your doctor may have told you to be non weight bearing for a certain length of time for many reasons. These reasons include recent surgery, injury, or a wound or ulcer to the bottom of your feet. Listening to your doctor, and remaining non weight bearing is important to allow your body to heal. Even though you're non weight bearing, there are many exercises available still available to you. These exercises still focus on strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, and increasing circulation without putting weight or impact on your feet. Here are nine non-weight bearing exercise ideas you can try:


Non weight bearing resistance exercises:


1. Seated Arm Exercises:

Seated Bicep Curls: Sit in any chair. You feet should be flat on the floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells or resistance bands in your hands, palms facing up. Slowly curl your hands towards your shoulders. You should feel this exercise in your biceps. Finally, lower your hands back down. You will do 3 sets of 10 reps. This tidbit from totalshape.com is key: "To avoid strain or injury, rest 60-90 seconds between sets to assess if you need to adjust your weight or posture." I've included some options for dumbells and resistance bands below. The dumbells have different weight options to select from.




2. Tricep Dips:

Sit on the edge of a chair. Your hands should be holding each side of the seat of the chair. Slide your bottom off the chair and lower yourself down by bending your elbows. Push yourself back up to the starting position. You will do 3 sets of 10 reps.


3. Seated Leg Exercises:

Seated Leg Extensions: Sit in a chair and hold one leg in front of you, keeping your knee straight. Hold for a few seconds, then lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg. You will do 3 sets of 10 reps for each leg.


4. Seated Leg Circles:

Sit on a chair and extend one leg straight out in front of you. Slowly trace circles in the air with your foot, clockwise and then counterclockwise. Switch legs and repeat. You will do 3 sets of 10 reps for each side.


5. Seated Core Exercises:

Seated Russian Twists: Sit in a chair with your feet slightly lifted off the floor. Twist your torso to one side, touching the chair or reaching for the opposite side with your hands. Return to the center and repeat on the other side. You will do 3 sets of 10 reps


6. Seated Knee Tucks:

Sit tall in a chair and bring your knees up towards your chest, you should feel this in your core. Lower your feet back down to the floor and repeat. You will do 3 sets of 10 reps



Non weight bearing cardio exercises:


7. Seated Cycling:

This can be done with or without equipment. If you're opting for the equipment-free route, sit on a chair and mimic a cycling motion with your legs, pedaling forward and backward. Increase the intensity by adding resistance bands or using a stationary bikeIf you don't have access to a stationary bike, here is another great option.It's a mini exercise bike. You can be seated in a chair, or on a couch and use this. It can also be placed under a desk at work as well. You can do this for 30 mins.


8. Swimming

If you don't have any wounds or ulcers of your feet or legs, swimming is a great non weight bearing activity, and probably one of my favorites. I put swimming under the cardio section of this both, but it really could go in either resistance or cardio exercises. The water is a great form of resistance, making just about any activity in the water low impact. The article linked here from Healthline.com goes over the benefits of swimming: https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-swimming

  • Increases heart rate without putting unhealthy stress on your body

  • Tons muscles

  • Builds endurance

  • Improves sleep

  • Helps to manage stress

  • Some studies are showing swimming can even help to lower blood pressure and blood sugar

  • Affordable

9. Some forms of yoga

Yoga can be definitely a higher impact, high energy practice, but some styles of yoga like Yin, for example, have you remain sitting, or lying on your back during the practice. These styles of yoga focus on stretching and breathwork. A good yoga teacher will be able to give you modified pose ideas to avoid stress and strain on certain areas of your body. For someone who has to be non-weight bearing for a period of time, some types of yoga are a good option.


Remember to listen to your body and consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen especially if you're in non-weight bearing. They can provide specific guidance and tailor the exercises to your individual needs and limitations.



Looking for a foot doctor in Phoenix, AZ? My name is Dr. Tarr. I am a podiatrist, and owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona, located in Tempe, AZ. To view available appointment times, click the following link: directpodaz.janeapp.com








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