When we are young, we feel like we are going to stay like this forever. But, inevitably, times change and the older we become, the weaker we feel. Getting older healthily takes time and patience but it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself in engaging in sports activities during your golden years. Moreover, staying active in the golden age makes you invigorated and mobile enough not to depend on caretakers. The sooner you start, the better. Tired of lower back pain? Feel like standing from the chair has become a challenge? These issues are the result of the weak core that supports the lower back. If you don’t want to constantly rely on someone else, then your best decision would be to immerse into the core-strengthening workout. You can do it at home without rushing to the nearest gym. Another great news is that you can train your core at any age. Nonetheless, seniors are advised to consult a physician before commencing any core exercise. This article is going to cover the benefits of core strengthening exercises for seniors and, most importantly, easy core training you can enjoy at home.
What Does Core Strength Mean?
Core strength is made of 29 muscles, which are sometimes described as a muscular box (2). These muscles are located in the center of your body. They include oblique muscles, upper and lower back muscles, and glutes.
Core muscles allow us to do all the actions we usually take for granted, like standing, getting up from the couch, lifting something, bending, and maintaining balance. When people age, their core usually weakens. Hence, they face lower back pain all the time or lose coordination when simply getting up from the chair. That is why seniors should focus on exercises that target core muscles too. By doing them, they will rev up their muscle support, prevent injuries, and retain a good posture.
Moreover, regular core exercise can relieve constant back pain, unlike general exercise for decreasing pain (3).
What Are The 5 Benefits Of Strengthening The Core?
If you are still not convinced that abdominal exercises for seniors are effective, then imagine this situation: You head to the washing machine to remove fresh clothes and suddenly feel back pain. You try to rotate a tad but the pain gets stronger. Unfortunately, there is no one to help you, and might as well grab your phone and call the ambulance.
This is quite an unpleasant experience but it often happens even with younger people. However, it is possible to avoid such terrible situations by holding yourself up with core strengthening exercises.
Let’s take a closer look at their top 5 benefits:
- Body pain management. As was mentioned, golden-age people often face exhilarating lower back pain. Luckily, core exercises improve muscle strength in this area and manage pain. There are cases when they help reduce pain (7).
- Injury prevention. Regular core exercises for older adults prevent injuries from different routine actions and retain important body movements.
- Enhanced stability and balance. Unsteady movements are often seen in older people. The core muscles indeed support your spine and improve your overall balance and stability. In this way, you are permitted to carry out various movements confidently (6).
- Improved body strength. Regular core exercise can make us stronger, which gives us a chance to perform much harder movements.
- Combats mass. Through age, a lot of people gain weight. Moreover, it is much more difficult to do certain actions when you are overweight. The more we move, the more calories we lose. Therefore, core strengthening exercises for seniors help maintain a healthier weight.
How Do Seniors Strengthen Their Core?
Seniors can strengthen their core only with the help of effective exercises. Yes, it is amazing to walk outside with your spouse or friends or take private swimming classes that promote overall health. Still, there are specific core workouts that target core muscles perfectly.
Additionally, there is no need to purchase a gym membership and ask for a professional trainer. You can perform the exercises on your own. The essentials you should prepare are a yoga mat, comfortable shoes, a sturdy chair, and a motivated mood.
Take a look at these 3 effective and simple ab exercises for older adults. You might need a chair for one and a yoga mat for the rest.
Seated Knee Lifts
This is a great core workout that recruits the hip flexors, which play a crucial role in lifting the foot when walking.
How to perform seated knee lifts:
- Sit on the chair comfortably and keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Tighten your stomach and lift one knee a couple of inches up to the ceiling.
- Hold the position for 1 to 3 seconds and release the leg.
- Repeat it with the second leg.
- Perform 5 knee lifts for each leg.
You can challenge yourself by putting some weight on your knee. This will boost the tension and help you build stamina.
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This is the best exercise for older adults’ core since the entire back is supported throughout the movement.
How to perform dead bugs:
- Lie on the mat face up and lengthen your straight arms towards the ceiling. Keeping your knees bent, lift your legs off the surface at 90 degrees angle.
- Tighten your stomach and raise one arm above your head to hover over the floor and simultaneously straighten the opposite leg to hover over the floor.
- Hold the position for 1 to 3 seconds and alternate the arm and the leg.
- Perform 5 reps on each arm and leg.
This is a relaxing but burning exercise not only for your core but also for your glutes. It targets the gluteus medius, which assists in maintaining the lower back.
How to perform clamshells:
- Lie on the side of your body with your knees bent. Place your top leg over the bottom leg, knee over the knee, and foot on top of the foot. Put your elbow under your head.
- Tighten your stomach and slowly raise the top knee towards the ceiling. Try not to rotate your body during the movement.
- Hold this position for 1 to 3 seconds and repeat.
- Perform 10 reps in total.
To upgrade the exercise, you can tie a resistance band around your legs above the knees. Resistance bands are your winning tool during physical training since they improve balance and stamina, lower the risk of injury, and help with weight management (4).
What Is The Best Exercise For Older Adults?
The versatile range of core exercises can perplex a beginner. Moreover, not all seniors have enough time or stamina to complete more than 1 exercise. There pops a question: Is there one best exercise for older adults? You will be amused to discover a top activity that perfectly recruits both core and glutes. The name of this exercise is the glute bridge.
Why this exercise?
Well, glute bridges work the gluteus maximus– the largest glute muscle that forms the buttocks. It engages not only during glute bridges but also during hip extension and standing up from the squat (5).
A 2019 study indicates that a weaker gluteus maximus can lead to low back pain. Therefore, if you work out this muscle, you can prevent low back pain.
How to perform it:
- Lie on the back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place the arms down by the sides of your body and keep the palms of the hands facing upward.
- Squeeze the gluteal muscles and lift the pelvis off the floor. Lift it enough to create a straight line.
- Hold in this position for at least 2 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat the steps above 10 to 15 times (5).
You can make this activity more advanced by tying the resistance band around your knees.
How Do I Strengthen My Core Over 50?
The easiest and most effective way to strengthen your core is to train your core muscles.
There is a weird myth about older people which states that people of this age can’t handle physical activities. The truth is even after 50, you can still tone your body and strengthen your core without fancy gym equipment and special sports skills.
Of course, there are more challenging types of core training that can negatively affect you but in this article, we cover the best and safest exercises for seniors.
Here are a few tips on how to implement core activities into your life:
- Don’t rush it. If you haven’t trained your core for years, you had better start slowly and focus on the quality of the exercise. After you build enough strength and stamina, you can double up the number of times.
- Create a daily habit. Unlike other types of exercises, core training can be performed daily since it requires less time for recovery.
- Warm-up. Do the 5 to 10 minutes warm-up activity before the core strengthening workout. You can march in place and rotate your arms in different directions.
- Stretch after. No matter whether you are a beginner or a professional trainer, you should end each workout by stretching your muscles.
Here are 2 exercises for older adult’s core that you can perform at home on the yoga mat:
This is an easier version of a general plank that still perfectly targets core muscles and activates them instantly. It provides powerful stamina and arms strength.
How to perform it:
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and lower your upper body onto your forearms.
- Keep your feet in the air behind you.
- Keep your back straight and slightly lean on your elbows to create a line.
- Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
A perfect exercise that targets your core, upper and lower back, and glutes.
How to perform it:
- Lie facedown on the ground.
- Extend your straight arms above your head.
- Lift your head, two arms, and legs off the ground.
- Return to the starting position, then repeat.
If you have trouble lifting both arms and legs then alternate instead. Lift a left arm and the right leg and the other way around.
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What Is The Best Stomach Exercise For Seniors?
As you know core exercises play a key role in maintaining a good posture and tolerating ifferent movements. With strong core muscles, such activities as standing, sitting, walking, or even doing house chores will become easy and pleasant.
If you don’t want to get on the floor for a core workout, then sitting and standing alternatives will be an excellent fit. Each best fun stomach exercise for older adults core recruits abdominals. That is why seniors are advised to maintain a tight core during the performance.
Check these 2 toning stomach exercises that activate your core, glutes, and arms:
Alternating Arms And Knee
How to perform it:
- In the standing position bring your hands up behind your head with elbows raised to the side.
- Try to touch the elbow with your knee and alternate the sides.
- Keep the core tight during each movement.
- Move like this for 1 minute.
How to perform it:
- Sit back on the front edge of your chair and hold your arms onto the chair.
- Place your torso towards the backrest of the chair.
- Hold in this position without touching the back of the chair and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
It is important to breathe properly during each core exercise. Often people neglect normal breathing since they are focused on timing or technique. Please note that proper breathing is the key to better results. The better you breathe, the more time you can perform the activity and enhance your stamina.
The Bottom Line
Core muscles are located in the center of our body and they include oblique muscles, upper and lower back muscles, and glutes. Healthy core muscles prevent injuries, manage weight, and improve posture, stability, and balance.
As we get older, core muscles lose their strength and we need to invigorate them. Core exercises are the best way to activate your abdominals. These exercises can be performed daily at home on the yoga mat.
Remember to warm yourself up before every core exercise and have a little stretching activity afterward. When you get stronger you can intensify your workout with a bigger amount of reps or additional props.
More importantly, older people are recommended to consult a physician before starting any exercise.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- ASSESSING AND TREATING GLUTEUS MAXIMUS WEAKNESS – A CLINICAL COMMENTARY (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Core Muscle Strength — Why it’s Important to Maintain (2012, mayoclinic.org)
- Core Stability Exercise Versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Great Upper Body Workouts With Resistance Bands (2021, webmd.com)
- How to strengthen the lower back (2022, medicalnewstoday.com)
- The best core exercises for older adults (2021, harvard.edu)
- What to Know About Core Exercises for Seniors? (2022, webmd.com)