Today, we are going to introduce you to a number of helpful core exercises for seniors!
A weak core could lead to lower back pain, bad posture, and muscle injuries. To stay healthy and mobile, you should dedicate some time to core training.
Below are a number of exercise suggestions to help you improve flexibility, stability, and the overall strength of your core muscles.
Best Core Exercises For Seniors
In this section, let’s have a look at a few core strengthening exercises for seniors. We will cover both isometric tummy exercises to work stability and dynamic exercises to improve flexibility and strength.
Note that these exercises can be demanding on the core. If you have back pain, skip to the next section of the article.
Depending on the type of exercise and your fitness level, do as many reps and/or hold positions for as long as you can.
- Lie on your back and plant your feet flat on the ground, keeping your knees bent. Rest your arms to your sides.
- As you exhale, press your feet into the mat, engage your glutes, and raise your pelvis until your body forms a straight line from your knees to the chest. Take care not to over-arch your back.
- Hold the position for some time (the American Senior Communities recommends 3 breaths).
- Lower your pelvis and repeat 8 to 12 times.
This exercise works your core muscles, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Lie face down on your exercise mat, with both arms stretched out in front of you.
- Ideally, raise your head, arms, and legs off the ground. If this is too difficult, raise your head, right arm, and left leg, switching sides after each repetition.
- Lower and repeat 8 to 12 times.
This exercise allows you to target lower back muscles and improve stability in your core.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold your arms together in front of you.
- Move your hands down toward your right hip. You may twist your torso rightward to allow your hands to freely reach your hip.
- “Chop” your arms in the opposite direction, bringing them toward your left ear.
- Do 8 to 12 repetitions and switch sides.
This exercise primarily works the obliques, though it engages the overall core as well.
Make sure not to twist your torso too much – you may strain your back.
You may perform this exercise seated. When seated, bring your arms down toward the outer side of one of your knees. Repeat with the other side. You may or may not bring your arms up toward your ear.
- Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Pull your belly toward your spine and push your back into the ground.
- Raise your left leg until its shin is parallel to the floor.
- Place your left leg back onto the floor.
- Repeat with your right leg. Do 8 to 12 repetitions with each leg.
Make sure to keep your core solid and your back on the floor throughout the entire range of motion.
As progression for this exercise, you may lift both your legs at the same time.
Furthermore, you could do this:
- Once both your legs are up with their shins parallel to the floor, slowly extend one of your legs away from your body and toward the floor, as demonstrated in the video above (start watching from 4:09 for this progression).
- Bring your leg back and repeat with the other leg.
- Don’t move at your back and don’t rest your leg on the floor when it reaches its lowest point.
You may then also start using your arms. Outstretch your arms above you, and as you extend one leg, lower the opposite arm overhead toward the floor (start watching from 6:02 for this progression).
The dead bug may be performed seated as well. Here’s how:
- Sit on a chair, taking care to firmly plant your feet into the floor for stability.
- Inhale and brace your core.
- Keeping your core braced, extend both arms in front of you.
- Raise one arm above your head.
- Slowly lower your arm and repeat with the other.
For an added challenge, you may also extend the leg opposite to the arm that you’ve lifted overhead.
There are many plank exercises, but the standard plank should be a good enough choice for most seniors. The plank is rather simple, but it’s by no means easy. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie with your stomach down on the floor.
- Place your forearms parallel onto the floor, keeping them directly under your shoulders.
- Press your toes into the ground to stabilize yourself.
- Contracting your abs, lift your trunk up so as to form a straight “plank” with your body.
- Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds, keeping your core and legs engaged.
If the plank appears to be too challenging for you, you may perform it from the knees rather than from the toes.
Core Exercises For Seniors With Back Pain
Below are a number of gentle core exercises recommended by WebMD to individuals with low back pain. If you can’t painlessly perform the exercises from above, try these ones first.
These movements may be safe for seniors with osteoporosis as well, but we recommend that you ask your doctor for more specific advice as to what should and should not be done in your condition.
By the way, if you have back pain, check out our overview of the Back Pain Breakthrough program. They may be able to help!
You’ve most likely heard of the crunch exercise. A staple core exercise, it’s great for working one’s abs, but it’s unsafe for seniors due to its neck and back strain.
Seniors should instead perform a partial crunch. Here’s how:
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Put your hands behind your neck or cross your arms onto your chest.
- As you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles and raise your shoulders a few inches off the floor.
- Hold your position for a second and then go back down to the floor.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Your feet, tailbone, and lower back should remain glued to the floor. Don’t pull your neck off the floor with your arms and don’t lead with your elbows to prevent neck and back strain.
Wall sits are another low-impact core exercise. Here’s how it is done:
- Stand 10 to 12 inches away from a wall.
- Lean back until your back is flat against the wall.
- Slowly slide down until your legs are slightly bent.
- Pressing your lower back into the wall, hold your position for a count of 10.
- Carefully slide back up the wall.
- Repeat from 8 to 12 times.
Press-up back extensions
- Lie down on your stomach, keeping your hands under your shoulders.
- Using your hands, push your shoulders away from the floor.
- If you can, place your elbows onto the floor directly under your shoulders.
- Hold for several seconds.
The bird dog is a spectacular exercise – it’s great for core stability, strength, and posture. We’ve featured this movement in our posture exercise guide for seniors – you may want to have a look at that article as well.
Anyway, here is how you do bird dogs:
- Get down on your hands and knees.
- Look down so that your neck is in line with your spine. Your back should be braced throughout the entire range of motion, without arching.
- Activate your stomach muscles to support your back.
- Lift your left leg and extend it behind you.
- Lift your right arm and extend it in front of you.
- Hold this position for a few breaths.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
If this is too difficult for you, you may lift only your legs or arms, one after another.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor.
- Tighten your abs as though you are bracing for a punch. You’ll feel your lower back pushing into the floor and your hips and pelvis rocking backward.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds while smoothly breathing in and out.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Regular core workouts are essential for long-term physical functionality and a comfortable life. Don’t neglect fitness and start today. You may need to begin with very simple exercises, but don’t worry – step by step, you should be able to dramatically improve core stability and strength! You just need to be consistent in your training.