10 Best Core Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

Core strengthening is a vital exercise especially for seniors, they are able to be done at home, without the need for help from a partner, and are simple enough that you don’t accidentally hurt yourself by doing them. It is an unfortunate fact that with age comes the reduction of muscle mass, decreasing flexibility, and a compromised balance. And a combination of these can actually lead to dangerous falls.

As a matter of fact, there are 2.5 million seniors treated in the emergency room or injuries due to falling every year. Fortunately, there’s an antidote for that— regular core training. So what are some good core strengthening exercises for seniors?


The Benefits of Core Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

 

You’re probably wondering how an ab workout can prevent you from falling.

Shouldn’t it be leg training?

The core actually consists of more than just those 6-pack muscles. This basically includes almost the entire torso, from your stomach, wrapping all the way around your lower back.

So, the core includes the rectus abdominus (commonly known as the 6-pack abs), the external and internal obliques (muscles running down your torso sides), the hips, the lower back and your traverse abdominus (innermost muscle layer surrounding the spine).

As you can see, the core does a lot more than just putting a naughty smile on anyone who sees it. And strengthening your core means that you are strengthening your ability to make almost any kind of movement.

Since the core stabilizes ad supports your spine, you will find that a strong core means it is easier to reach, bend, and twist. Research also indicates that people with stronger core have a better sense of their center of gravity. This, in turn, allows you to become less prone to balance-related falls.

In addition, studies revealed that gaining more strength can help increase mobility and stability and keeping you independent and fall-free for longer. As an added bonus, you can also experience less low back pain. This is because your strength and stretches the muscles of your lower back and your joints and disks are well-cushioned by a nice wall of muscles, relieving the pressure off from your joints.

10 Best Core Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

Best Core Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

Now, if you are convinced that a strong core can indeed help you become more independent for longer and less prone to falling, let’s take a look at some of the best core-strengthening workouts for seniors.

1) Abdominal Bracing

Abdominal bracing is one of the simplest ways to strengthen the core. Plus, you can do it anytime, anywhere. This workout works by activating your transverse abdominus muscle which wraps around the core and drawing it in like a corset.

Being overly simple, you will need to make it a habit in order to experience the powerful strengthening effect it has on your core as well as improving your posture.

How To Do It:

  • Start by standing tall.
  • Slowly draw in your belly button to your spine while slightly contracting your abs.
  • Hold the contraction for as long as you can, practicing it several times daily.
  • Don’t forget to breathe while contracting.

2) Glute Bridge

The butt bridge exercise is excellent for strengthening your posterior chain, which is an integral part of your core including the hips, glutes, abs and lower back. This workout routine help in keeping the spine and your disks in proper alignment, allowing you to move freely without the pain.

How To Do It:

  • Start by lying on the floor on your back.
  • Bend your knees with feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your hands on your side.
  • Engage your core and glutes, pushing your hips toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for a few seconds and slowly lower it back until your glutes are almost touching the floor.
  • Repeat this for 5 – 10 reps.
  • Don’t forget to breathe.

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3) Wood Chops

This one is a great workout that targets almost every muscle of your core while also improving your balance. Wood chops also mimic a move that most of us do every day— unloading and loading the dishwasher.

How To Do It:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Clasp both hands in front of you.
  • Then, pull your arms up to your right side of the head.
  • Squat down while you “chop” your arms diagonally down towards the left side of your body and keep your abs braced.
  • Repeat the step by chopping back up to the top.
  • Do this for 10 reps on one side and switch to the other.

4) Superman

This workout helps strengthen your glute muscles and the upper and lower back. When these groups of muscles are stimulated, you can easily perform any movement that requires sitting or bending over.

The exercise is a progressive workout. So, it is recommended that you start with lifting one leg and the opposite arm and alternating, then gradually progressing to lifting both legs and arms.

How To Do It:

  • Start by lying in your stomach on the floor, using a blanket or a mat for cushioning.
  • Stretch out your arms.
  • Slowly lift your right arm along with your left leg and your head, at least 2 inches off the floor.
  • Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes, so you can remove some pressure off the lower back.
  • Lower, then repeat on the opposite arms and legs.
  • Do this for 5 reps on each side.

Note: If it is still difficult for you to perform, you can try lifting your arms only, then your legs, until you can build up strength.

5) Bicycle

This core workout can be a bit more challenging for seniors. However, it is a great workout that also targets your legs and arms while challenging your stability and balance.

How To Do It:

  • Start by lying on your back.
  • Place your hands behind your head, but do not clasp them.
  • Bend your knees, lifting your feet, so that your calves are then parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly draw in your belly button, bringing your left knee into your chest and reaching toward the right elbow.
  • Switch to the opposite sides.
  • Do this workout for 30 seconds.
  • Rest for a minute.
  • Then, do it for another 30 seconds.

6) Dead Bug

This workout can help strengthen your entire core, including your obliques that run up and down the sides and your stability muscles. It is important that you keep your lower back close to the floor while doing this workout, both for effective results and safety.

How To Do It:

  • Start by lying flat on the floor and on your back.
  • Keep your legs raised at 90 degrees angle to the floor.
  • Stretch your arms straight up towards the ceiling.
  • Tightening the abs, slowly lower the left foot toward the floor while maintaining the bend in the knee.
  • Then return the leg to the starting position.
  • Repeat on your right leg.
  • Do this for 5 – 10 reps each leg.
  • Don’t forget to breathe.

Note: If you wish to increase the challenges, you can keep your lower back on the floor, and reach the opposite arm overhead while you extend your leg. Meaning, as your right leg reaches toward the floor, your left hand extends overhead.

7) Modified Plank

Planks are one of the best exercises that target the whole body— from your arms and shoulders to your entire core, to the gluteus and legs.

How To Do It:

  • Start with your knees and hands on the floor. Your knees should be under your hips and your palms need to be under your shoulders.
  • Slowly extend your left arm out in front of you while also extending your right leg out behind you.
  • Hold this posture for a few seconds.
  • Move back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite sides.
  • Do this for a total of 5 – 10 reps on each side.

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8) Seated Knee Lifts

A simple, yet effective core workout, seated knee lifts also challenges your balance and form as you lift your knees up and down.

How To Do It:

  • Sit on a mat. If it is too difficult, you can do it on a bench.
  • Bring both knees toward your chest slowly until your legs touch your core.
  • Go back to the starting position.
  • Do this for 5 – 15 reps.

9) Side Twists

The Sidetwist targets your oblique muscles which are located along the sides of your core. Such muscles help in your bending sideways and the rotation of the body. Such workout helps in strengthening the oblique muscles, which in turn, improving your range of motions.

How To Do It:

  • Sit on a sturdy chair with feet flat on the ground.
  • Put your left hand on the back of your head. The right arm should be outstretched to the side.
  • Lean over to your side and do the motion of reaching towards the floor.
  • Tighten the oblique muscles as you bend over and pause for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this workout for at least 5 – 10 times on each side.

Note: Make sure not to let your chest fall forward and always keep your feet flat on the ground.

10) Bird Dog

Similar to the dead bug, but in reverse, the bird dog engage and strengthen your core, glutes, lower back while also challenging your stabilizer muscles to hold out your balance.

Once again, if this workout seems too difficult for you at first, then try holding out just one leg and/or one arm. Over time, the core will be strong enough in order for you to do the proper form.

How To Do It:

  • Start with your knees and hands on the floor. Your knees should be under your hips and your palms need to be under your shoulders.
  • Slowly extend your left arm out in front of you while also extending your right leg out behind you.
  • Hold this posture for a few seconds.
  • Move back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite sides.
  • Do this for a total of 5 – 10 reps on each side.

Safety Tips For Seniors

Core Strengthening Exercises For Seniors

Core workouts for seniors are crucial, however, they can be a bit difficult for the older population, which may cause pain or even worsening physical conditions. To prevent such situations, here are some tips you need to follow.

Warm-Up

Like any workout, experts will recommend that you warm up before starting your core strengthening routine. This ensures that the muscles are stretched and ready for more strenuous activity and not forced at the start. You can warm up by jogging for a few minutes, swing your arms, or do some Zumba moves.

Start Less

You might be optimistic about the benefits of core workouts, however, like any other exercise program, you will have to start less and gradually increasing the intensity of your workout as you can. You will want to choose 3 – 4 of these workouts and perform them at least 3 times a week to start. This should help prevent injuries and pains, especially if you are working out for the first time in years.

Proper Form

Maintaining proper form is crucial. Not only does it help in reducing the risk of injury, but a proper form also ensures that your workout and moves are effective and will show results.

Don’t Ignore The Pain

While most people think that working out is associated with pain, it is not necessarily true. Pain during the first few days of working out is understandable since the body is not used to the moves, however, chronic pain even after weeks of working out can be a sign of poor form or ineffective workouts. However, when core strengthening workouts for seniors become painful, do not try to ignore this and stop the workout immediately.

Be Flexible

Whether you downloaded a workout app or following a YouTube channel for your core strengthening workout, you do not have to follow every exercise and reps included. If you think you can’t do all the moves, then be flexible and only perform the reps and exercise you can handle. Never push yourself too hard as it may lead to injuries and chronic pains.

Consult Your Doctor

As always, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before you start any new workout routine or program— particularly if you think you have or already have any underlying health issues such as osteoporosis, osteopenia or high blood pressure.

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