As wonderful as aging is, it can also be a drag in some areas. Not to damper on the wonderful experiences of life we face as we grow older, the physical body, however, is not cut out to stay young forever. That is why it’s vital to maintain our strength and balance to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
In this article, we’ll discuss why exercise is vital for seniors, the best core strength exercises for seniors, exercises to strengthen the lower back and core, and the benefits these exercises pose for the aging body!
Why exercise is vital for 55+ adults?
As we age, it is only natural that our muscle mass and bone density tend to decrease. As does our metabolism, which slows down. This means that we will burn fewer calories, and sustaining a healthy weight becomes difficult. Exercise can help fight these age-related developments, keeping our bodies healthy and active, especially in older adults.
Exercise can also be stimulating and help prevent long-lasting conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. These conditions are more prevalent in older adults, and exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing them. Furthermore, exercise has also been known to improve mental health, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality.
As important as exercise is, it is important to note a good diet and healthy habits equally plays an essential part. Read the articles below to get a better understanding why!
The best core strength exercises for seniors
Here we have listed the best exercises for core strength for seniors that they can perform without putting unnecessary stress on their bodies!
The plank is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere without equipment. It’s an excellent exercise for building core strength and improving posture. Assume a push-up kind of position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders to perform a plank. The body should be in a straight line, direct from your head to your heels. Maintain the position for a minimum of 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then release. As you get stronger, you can hold the position for longer.
The bridge is an exercise that targets the glutes and lower back muscles. It’s an excellent exercise for seniors who spend a lot of time sitting or have lower back pain. To do a bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent. Now keep your feet flat on the floor. Next, place your hands at your sides with your palms down. Next, lift your hips off the floor by keeping your feet and shoulders firmly on the floor. Hold the body in such position for at least 5 seconds, and then release.
Standing balance exercises
Standing balance exercises are essential for seniors as they help to improve balance and stability, reducing the risk of falls. One simple standing balance exercise is standing on one foot for 30 seconds and then switching to the other. As you get better and stronger, you can increase your time standing on one foot.
The bird dog is an exercise that targets the core and lower back muscles. It’s an excellent exercise for seniors who want to improve their posture and balance. To perform the bird dog, get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders. Also, keep your knees under your hips. Then, keeping your core tight, lift your right arm and left leg off the ground and ensure keeping them straight. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then release and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
7 Exercises to strengthen lower back and core for seniors
1. Pelvic tilt
The pelvic tilt is an exercise that targets the lower back muscles. It’s an excellent exercise for seniors who spend a lot of time sitting or have lower back pain. To do a pelvic tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Next, tighten your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis towards your chest, flattening your lower back against the floor. This position should be held in such a way for a few seconds and then released. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.
2. Modified cobra pose
This yoga pose helps strengthen the lower back muscles and improve posture. Lie on your stomach flat with your hands under your shoulders and elbows close to your body. Gently lift your chest off the floor, keeping your hips and legs on the ground. Hold in such a position for a few seconds, and then release. If this is too difficult, you can alter the pose by only lifting your head and shoulders off the floor. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.
3. Seated leg lifts
This exercise targets the lower abdominal muscles and hip flexors. Sit on a chair straight, and place your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift one leg straight out in front of you, keeping your foot flexed. Hold as such for a few seconds, and then lower your leg back down. Repeat with the other leg. Perform this for about 10 to 15 reps on each leg.
This type of exercise strengthens the lower back and glute muscles. Lay flat on your stomach with your arms stretched and legs extended. Then lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor, squeezing or holding in your glutes as you lift. Hold this pose for a while, and then release. Repeat this for about 10 to 15 reps.
5. Cat-Cow stretch
This yoga pose helps stretch and strengthen the lower back muscles. Start the cat-cow pose on your hands and knees. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Now inhale and arch your back, lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling (Cow). Next, Exhale, bend your spine forward and tuck your chin into your chest by bringing your tailbone up towards your knees (yes, like a cat). Repeat this for about 10 to 15 reps.
6. Knee-to-Chest stretch
This exercise helps stretch the lower back and glute muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and flat on the floor. Slowly bring one knee towards your chest, using your hands to pull it in towards your body gently. Hold yourself in such a position before releasing. Repeat with the other leg and keep doing it for 10 to 15 reps on each leg.
7. Seated Russian twists
This exercise targets the oblique muscles in your body and improves core strength. Please pull up a chair and sit on it with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Hold a medicine ball or a lightweight in front of you with both hands. Slowly rotate your torso to one side, bringing the ball towards your hip. Return to the center and repeat on the other side. Do this at least 10 to 15 times a day.
Before you try these forms of core exercise for strengthening the body, consult your doctor or physical therapist.
Key benefits of core exercises for seniors
Exercises are necessary for seniors, whether they are 50 or 60. Here are the three main benefits of building core strength for seniors through exercise.
1. Better posture, lesser pain
Your core muscles help you stand tall and sit up straight. However, weak core muscles can cause slouching, leading to back pain. Strengthening your core muscles can reduce aches or other forms of pain and keep you upright.
2. Easier daily tasks
An aging body will find it difficult to perform tasks that were once a cinch. A strong core can make everyday activities easier for seniors, such as walking up stairs, bending over, and getting out of bed. It can also improve performance in sports or other activities like golfing, running, and swimming.
3. Improved balance and better coordination
The core muscles of the human body help seniors stay stable while sitting, standing, and walking. Strengthening these muscles can improve one’s stability and coordination, making it easier to move around without thinking about it.
Yoga is also helpful. Why?
Yoga is a unique form of exercise for seniors because it improves flexibility, balance, and mental health. It does not stress the human body too much and is in-arguably relaxing. Many yoga poses focus on the core muscles, which is ideal for strengthening the abdominal and back muscles.
If you really want to finish strong, irrespective of being a senior or not, you need to focus on strengthening your body’s core. Strengthening core for seniors is essential to lead a healthy and meaningful life.
By incorporating the list of exercises into your daily routine, you can preserve your physical health and also live a longer, more active life. But remember, if you are an older adult, always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you have existing medical conditions.
How about reading the following articles on fitness and activities that can also keep seniors lively?
What would core stability training be?
Core stability training is a form of exercise that focuses on developing the muscles that support the spine and pelvis. These muscles, counting the abdominals, lower back, and hips, work together to provide a stable base for movement for the human body and also to prevent injury. Training these muscles can improve their posture, balance, and general physical performance.
How and why do you train the core?
Core training can also help to prevent injuries, mainly to the lower back. This training can be done through exercises such as planks, bridges, or crunches even. By developing a solid core, older adults can also improve their ability to perform regular activities and maintain an active lifestyle.
How can a senior citizen increase muscle strength?
Seniors can increase muscle strength through a selection of exercises, including resistance training and body-weight exercises. For example, resistance training, using weights or resistance bands, is quite effective for building muscle mass and improving overall strength as long as the consequences are not too overpowering for older adults.
What do seniors want from strength training?
Aside from improving their overall health and quality of life, they want to maintain their independence and ability to perform activities of daily living, such as walking, bathing, and getting up from a chair. Seniors may also enjoy the social aspect of strength training if they are in a retirement community like assisted living. It is a great group activity