The core muscles give vital support to your lower back and help you stand, maintain balance, and carry out important movements. We look at some effective core exercises for seniors, the correct way to do them, and their benefits.
Core Exercises for Seniors
The core muscles are located at the center of your body. They extend from your ribcage and go down your pelvis and hips. They include the muscles that support your spine and go right down to your buttocks.
These muscles support many important actions and movements such as standing, getting up from a chair, bending, lifting, and retaining balance.
Because of the importance of the movements that these muscles support, it’s crucial to keep them in proper shape. As you age, you tend to lose strength and muscle mass throughout your body.
Maintaining core strength becomes even more essential for seniors since it plays a critical role in retaining a good posture, preventing injuries, and ensuring that your muscles support everyday activities for as long as possible.
Regular exercise is one of the key factors that maintain core strength, and is central to many daily movements such as walking and climbing stairs. Core muscles also support and enhance the movements of your limbs.
Types of Core Exercises
There are different types of core exercises that seniors can do depending on their ability and comfort. These include standing and sitting core exercises that can be done on the floor or a mat.
The modified plank. Begin with your palms, knees, and toes on the floor. Now contract your abdominal muscles and bring your torso (upper body) down as you bend your elbows.
At this point, your hands from your palms up to the elbow are touching the floor and supporting your torso, with your shoulders directly above your elbows.
Now lift your toes in the air behind you, with your knees still in contact with the floor. Keep your spine erect, making it as straight as a plank as possible. Hold the position for a few deep breaths and return to the starting point.
The bridge. This exercise focuses on the gluteal muscles (in your buttocks), the lower back, and the stomach. Start by lying down flat on your back with your knees bent and pointing straight up, while your feet are flat on the ground. Rest your arms flat on the floor on either side.
Now lift your torso such that your knees and chest are in a straight line, while your shoulders, feet, and hands remain on the ground. Be mindful not to arch your back and to maintain your spine and chest in a straight line. Hold this position for three seconds and then gradually bring your back to the ground. Repeat this five times.
Leg lifts. Lie down flat on your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your left leg about five inches from the floor. Hold the position for three seconds and slowly bring your leg down and place it on the floor. Now lift your right leg up and hold it.
Make sure that you don’t bend your legs at your knees when you lift them. Repeat this five times for each leg. This exercise works the muscles in your pelvis and the lower part of the stomach.
Superman pose. Lie down on your chest with both your arms extended in front of your shoulders. Now raise your head, right arm, and left leg at the same time about two inches from the floor. Hold the position for three seconds and then bring them down together.
Now, raise your head, left arm, and right leg up and repeat the steps. Repeat the sequence five times. This exercise is called the Superman pose because it looks very similar to Superman when he flies. This exercise strengthens the muscles in your lower back.
Seated side bends. Sit on a chair with your spine erect, feet level on the ground, and your hands by your sides. Now, place your right palm behind your head and bend towards your left side. Try to touch the ground on your left side with your fingertips.
Go as close to the ground as possible while feeling the stretch on your right lateral. Once you reach your lowest point, hold the position for three seconds and slowly come up to the original position, and relax your right hand. Make sure that both your feet are flat on the ground throughout the exercise, especially when you’re bending over to your sides.
Now, repeat the process on the other side by first placing your left palm behind your head and bending over to your right side. Do this sequence five times.
Benefits of Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors
Research has shown that regular exercise slows down the aging process and also has many other benefits.
Pain management. Incidences of lower back pain and other types of pain are common in older adults. Core exercises improve muscle strength in this critical area and help manage pain. In some cases, they also help to reduce it.
Improved balance and stability. The core muscles play a central role in supporting your spine and improving your overall balance and stability. This permits you to carry out a range of movements with confidence.
Prevention of injuries. After a certain age, the body’s natural healing mechanism slows down, which means that it takes longer for it to come back to its original capabilities after an injury. That’s why preventing injuries becomes vital. Regular exercise maintains important body movements and prevents injuries from falls or other routine actions.
Improved body strength. Research has found that regular exercise enhances body strength by as much as 30% in older adults, which also helps to increase your range of movements.
Ace your daily chores. A fit body gives you the freedom to do your daily activities with conviction. A strong core improves your reaction time and makes you more confident about several movements such as climbing stairs, walking down a slope, or any other everyday activity.