As we age, we experience a natural decline in strength, stamina, and flexibility. But there are steps you can take to slow this process! Staying active as you age is crucial to not only adding years to your life but maintaining a high quality of life throughout those extra years.
Even in your 60s, 70s, and 80s, you should be getting a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. And some of the best exercises to include in your routine are those that work your core.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything intense. There are plenty of core exercises for seniors that are easy and safe to do that will still do wonders for your health and fitness.
To learn everything you need to know about how to complete these exercises, as well as the benefits you’ll receive from doing so, just keep reading!
Wood chops are one of the most basic exercises you can do but are great for strengthening virtually every core muscle in your body. As you complete this exercise, imagine yourself as a lumberjack chopping wood!
To begin, stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart and raise your arms to the side of your head. Next, lower into a squat, and as you do so, swing your arms diagonally across your body while flexing your core. Bring your arms back up to their starting position and repeat five to ten times before switching to the opposite side.
The best core exercises strengthen not only your abdominal muscles but your spine as well. And bridges do just that!
For a proper bridge maneuver, lie with your back on the floor, bending your knees to allow your feet to rest flat on the ground. Flex your abdominal muscles and raise your hips until the space between your chest and knees forms a straight line. Be careful to keep your back straight as you do so, you want your spine to remain in alignment.
Hold the raised position for about ten seconds, then lower yourself back to the floor. Repeat this motion five to ten times, taking a moment to rest between each repetition if needed.
To improve your core strength any time, anywhere, try bracing your abdominals! This one is less of an exercise and more of a habit that you can practice in your day-to-day life but is still fantastic for strengthening your core and boosting your posture.
You can do this exercise from a seated or standing position. Simply draw your torso up to its full height, then pull your belly button toward your spine by contracting your abdominal muscles.
Hold this pose for as long as you can while maintaining your breath, then release. Before you know it, this motion will be second nature! You’ll be doing it all day without thinking about it, even while you’re walking.
The superman exercise is a yoga pose that works your back and gluteal muscles. Strong glutes are vital for good posture, as well as everyday activities such as sitting, standing, and walking.
In a superman pose, you’ll lie on the floor face down with your arms stretched out in front of you. All at once, lift your head, right arm, and left leg about two inches from the ground and hold for three to five seconds.
Slowly return to your starting position and switch sides, raising your left arm and right leg. Repeat five to ten times on each side.
If you’re looking for the ultimate core exercise, planking is your answer. There isn’t just one way to plank. There are several variations and modifications, each of which is good for working your entire core. They’ll also work your arms and upper body!
For a planking exercise, start with your hands and knees on the floor. Then lower onto your elbows and support yourself by contracting your core, drawing your belly button toward your spine.
In a traditional plank, you would walk your legs back until you’re on your toes. But in a modified plank, you’ll stay on your knees. Hold this position for as long as you can, working your way up to a minute.
Leg lifts are an excellent exercise for your lower back and abdominal muscles. Because they work both your abdominals and your back, they’re an ideal exercise for core strength.
You’ll need a yoga or exercise mat or at the very least a carpeted area for leg lifts. Lie flat on your back and raise one leg until it’s about five inches above the floor. As you raise your leg, contract your abdominal muscles and hold the raised position for three to five seconds.
Lower your leg back to the floor, then repeat with your other leg. Alternate legs for 5-10 reps.
Side bends are one of the most effective seated core exercises for seniors. They strengthen your obliques, the muscles located on the sides of your torso. Your obliques aid in rotating your body and bending to the side.
To complete a side bend, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. With one hand behind your head, stretch the other out to the side. Slowly bend to the side with your outstretched hand reaching toward the floor.
As you bend, engage your obliques by tightening your stomach and sides, then return to an upright seated position. Repeat on both sides until you’ve done 5-10 reps.
The Benefits of Maintaining a Strong Core
In order to stick to any new habit, you need to determine your “why”. Why do you want to change your lifestyle? There are no wrong answers here, anything that motivates you is a good choice.
To give you a headstart, here are just a few of the exercise benefits you’ll receive through working your core.
Manage Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is all too common among seniors. In fact, it’s the most common disability in the country. If you suffer from chronic pain, making time for a few exercises for seniors can reduce or even resolve your symptoms!
Now, if you do have a condition that causes chronic pain, it’s important to check with your physician before starting any new fitness journey. Frequent doctor visits can be expensive, but there are programs that can help! For example, this page on Medicare Wire explains what each Medigap plan covers.
Maintain Balance and Stability
As you age, maintaining balance and stability becomes even more important. This is because falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in older adults. An older adult is admitted to the emergency room for fall treatment every 11 seconds.
By strengthening your sense of balance, you’ll reduce your risk of a harmful, even fatal, fall. Both standing and seated core exercises for seniors help support your spine and improve your center of gravity.
Exercise will not only reduce your risk of falls but prevent injuries overall. Remember, preventing an injury is always better than trying to heal from one. Suffering an injury will make it more difficult to stay active, so it’s best to do whatever you can to avoid them.
As early as age 30, you begin to lose muscle mass – as much as 5% per decade. The worse this gets, the more difficult it becomes to stay mobile. Thankfully, strength exercises for the elderly can fight this natural decline.
Stronger muscles will allow you to be more mobile, independent, and have an increased range of motion, which is crucial to health. Core exercises for seniors can improve your overall strength by as much as 30 percent!
Stay Vital and Active
When we aren’t feeling our best due to age or chronic pain, our instinct can be to move less. But in reality, this is the worst thing you can do. If you allow your muscles to become weak, you’ll find it more difficult to do even the most basic of daily tasks.
By taking advantage of senior fitness programs or exercising on your own, you’ll stay vital and active well into your later years.
Add These Core Exercises for Seniors to Your Daily Routine
It can be tempting to use age or chronic conditions as an excuse to become sedentary. But abandoning health and fitness will only decrease your quality of life further.
Add these core exercises for seniors and a bit of cardio to your daily routine – you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel!
For more health and fitness tips, tricks, and routines, take a look at our blog!