Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Developing the principles of chair based exercise for older people: a modified Delphi study

Katie R Robinson12*, Paul Leighton3, Philippa Logan2, Adam L Gordon12, Kevin Anthony4, Rowan H Harwood12, John RF Gladman12 and Tahir Masud12

Author Affiliations

1 Healthcare for Older People, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, Queens Medical Centre, NG7 2UH Nottingham, UK

2 Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, Medical School, The University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, NH7 2UH Nottingham, UK

3 Division of Primary Care, Medical School, The University of Nottingham, NG7 2UH Nottingham, UK

4 Falls and Bone Health Service, Nottingham CityCare Partnership, Newbrook House, 385 Alfreton Road, NG7 5LR Nottingham, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Geriatrics 2014, 14:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-65

Published: 19 May 2014



Chair based exercise (CBE) is suggested to engage older people with compromised health and mobility in an accessible form of exercise. A systematic review looking at the benefits of CBE for older people identified a lack of clarity regarding a definition, delivery, purpose and benefits. This study aimed to utilise expert consensus to define CBE for older people and develop a core set of principles to guide practice and future research.


The framework for consensus was constructed through a team workshop identifying 42 statements within 7 domains. A four round electronic Delphi study with multi-disciplinary health care experts was undertaken. Statements were rated using a 5 point Likert scale of agreement and free text responses. A threshold of 70% agreement was used to determine consensus. Free text responses were analysed thematically. Between rounds a number of strategies (e.g., amended wording of statements, generation and removal of statements) were used to move towards consensus.


16 experts agreed on 46 statements over four rounds of consultation (Round 1: 22 accepted, 3 removed, 5 new and 17 modified; Round 2: 16 accepted, 0 removed, 4 new and 6 modified; Round 3: 4 accepted, 2 removed, 0 new and 4 modified; Round 4: 4 accepted, 0 removed, 0 new, 0 modified).

Statements were accepted in all seven domains: the definition of CBE (5), intended users (3), potential benefits (8), structure (12), format (8), risk management (7) and evaluation (3).

The agreed definition of CBE had five components: 1. CBE is primarily a seated exercise programme; 2. The purpose of using a chair is to promote stability in both sitting and standing; 3. CBE should be considered as part of a continuum of exercise for frail older people where progression is encouraged; 4. CBE should be used flexibly to respond to the changing needs of frail older people; and 5. Where possible CBE should be used as a starting point to progress to standing programmes.


Consensus has been reached on a definition and a set of principles governing CBE for older people; this provides clarity for implementation and future research about CBE.

Chair based exercise; Older people; Physical activity; Consensus development