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Best Core Exercises for Seniors
As we age, we naturally become more vulnerable to health challenges like losing bone strength, muscle weakness, reduced bone density, etc. If timely corrective measures are not taken, it can affect the body’s balance, gait, and coordination. It is why healthcare experts recommend focusing on strengthening the core. A strong core can help strengthen bones and muscles, improve flexibility and balance, and enhance overall fitness levels.
Hence, to help seniors improve their core, we have compiled this ultimate guide that covers everything about strengthening the core. If you’re ready to explore some effective yet easy core strengthening exercises seniors, read until the end.
Table of Contents
Benefits of Strengthening Exercises for Seniors
Performing core exercises for seniors has plenty of benefits. Although exercising regularly, in general, helps slow down the aging process, focusing on the core can have miraculous health benefits. A strong core will give you better stamina, posture, coordination and stability and protect your body from potential injuries. Seniors can enjoy the following benefits by strengthening their core.
1. Preventing Injuries
For seniors, healing from an injury is more challenging than avoiding getting one. When you have a really strong core, your body becomes more balanced, stable, and capable enough to protect you from a potential injury.
2. Pain Management & Reduction
Many seniors experience severe lower back pain. Working on your core can help you stretch and strengthen your lower back muscles, ultimately reducing pain.
3. Making Daily Tasks Easier
A weak core can make even the simplest of regular tasks, like walking or getting up a chair, an arduous experience. Strengthening your core helps you improve your reaction time and aids in seamlessly performing daily activities.
4. It Keeps You Balanced & Stable
When you take care of your core, you also indirectly take care of your spine. It leads to creating stability and balance. You also develop an improved sense of your center of gravity, assisting you with confident movements.
5. Improved Body Strength
Performing easy core exercises for seniors can help improve overall body strength. It can also improve your muscle strength, allowing for a better and increased range of motion.
If you face difficulty performing your day-to-day tasks like walking, standing up from a chair, lifting objects, etc., you must focus on strengthening your core. Even performing a few basic core exercises regularly can help you deal with muscle loss, osteoporosis, knee pain, back pain, and other health problems that come with age.
Signs & Symptoms of a Weak Core
Whether you’re performing basic step exercises for seniors or have scaled your workout plan, you won’t make any significant progress until you start recognizing signs of having a weak or strong core. To make things easier, we have shared below all the familiar signs pointing toward a weak core. If you learn about the weak core signs, you can keep personalizing your exercises to get better results.
1. Experiencing Pain in Lower Back
If lower back pain is a daily occurrence, you have a weak core. It is one of the most visibly common symptoms that people with a weak core experience. A strong core supports your spine, assisting it in preventing injury. A weak core can also promote a swayback posture, leading to discomfort or extreme pain in your lower back.
2. Not Enough Stability & Power in Upper Body
Core muscles stabilize your core, acting as the required power foundation in your upper body. If you have a weak core, performing any upper-body exercises will be challenging. Even activities like swinging a bat or throwing a ball can become difficult. If you experience difficulty doing push-ups or any other activities that require upper body strength, it’s time to focus on your core.
3. Stomach Sticks Out When You Bend Over
Seniors with weak cores can notice their stomach sticking out further than their chest. This sign highlights a weak core and a loss of core tone. It generally happens because of core muscle weakness or an increased fat around your core. If you have noticed this sign, performing some simple 20 minute exercises for seniors can be helpful.
4. Performing Everyday Tasks will become a Challenge
Your core muscles are responsible for keeping your spine stable, allowing you to perform daily activities easily. You need a solid core to perform most of your daily activities. Whether you want to hold a child, carry a grocery bag home or walk up the stairs, these simple-looking activities can become challenging. You may have a weak core if you are having trouble performing any of your regular activities.
5. You May Feel Your Spine Sagging While Laying on the Floor
It is a simple core strength test to determine your core strength level. Start by lying comfortably on the floor with your knees bent, hands down on your side, and your spine resting on an imaginary line. If you have a weaker core, you will feel you are sagging toward the ground. Whereas a strong core will help you lay on the surface without sagging.
These are some signs you can look for to determine your core strength levels. If you notice most of these signs, it’s time you start working on your core. You can start with simple floor exercises for seniors or look for other effective core exercises.
10 Best Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors
It’s never too late to work on your core. If you have started noticing signs of a weak core, you can improve the condition by consistently performing some effective yet simple core exercises. You can start with 5 exercises for seniors a day and later scale as your body gets ready for more. To make it slightly easier for you, we have shared below the best ten core exercises every senior can start doing today.
- Marching in Place
- Isometric Core Strengthening
- March with Leg Extension
- Sitting Oblique Twists
- Resistance Band Leg Kicks
- Seated Forward Bends
- Seated Side Bends
- Bird Dog
- Lying Ankle Taps
1. Marching in Place
One of the top, best core exercises for seniors is marching in place. This simple exercise primarily targets your hips and thighs. But legs, core, and glutes are also targeted. You can practice this exercise by following the below-mentioned steps:
- Lie down on a flat surface, flex your knees, and place them on the floor. You can place your hands either on top of your belly or by your side.
- Now that you’re ready, gently lift your right leg off the flat surface. Your knees should remain flexed during this stage, so the thigh and lower leg are at 90 degrees to each other.
- Bring the knee above your pelvis and then place your foot back on the floor.
- Repeat the same step-wise process with the other leg.
You can do this 10-15 times for each leg for visible results.
2. Isometric Core Strengthening
It is one of the simplest core strengthening exercise seniors that targets the hamstrings and buttock muscles. This exercise enables muscle contraction without any movement in the surrounding joints. It creates constant muscle tension that eventually improves muscle endurance. You can do this exercise by following the below-mentioned steps.
- Lie on a flat surface or a mat with your feet on the ground and your knees flexed.
- Gently lift your right leg off the floor while keeping your knees flexed.
- Slowly bring the knee above your pelvis and place your palms on the right thigh.
- Now push the thighs and palms against each other for 3 seconds, then release.
- Put your right leg on the mat and follow the same process with the left leg.
This exercise should be done at least 10 times for both legs.
3. March with Leg Extension
Another core exercise you can begin today is ‘march with leg extension.’ This single-leg exercise works great on the quadriceps muscles in your front thighs. You can do this exercise by following the below-mentioned steps.
- Lie down on a flat surface, keeping your knees flexed and both feet entirely flat on the ground. Hands can either be kept on your belly top or placed side by side.
- Now that you’re ready, lift your right leg off the surface. Ensure your knees are flexed, so your thigh and lower leg are at 90 degrees.
- Gently bring your knee above your pelvis, and extend your leg in the front.
- Pause for 3 to 5 seconds, then bring the leg back to the original flexed position.
- Slowly place your right leg on the ground and repeat the steps with your left leg.
This exercise should be done at least 10-15 times for both legs.
4. Sitting Oblique Twists
Sitting oblique twists is one of the easiest 5 exercises for seniors for core strengthening. As the name suggests, it targets the side muscles of your abs, known as the oblique. You can follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this exercise.
- Sit comfortably on a chair, keeping your back straight, hands resting on your thighs, and shoulders rolled back.
- Bring your hands together with elbows out. Start by bringing them in front of your chest.
- Now looking ahead, turn your upper body to one side (say right) and then to the other side (left side).
Repeat this 10-15 times to stretch your core muscles and strengthen them
5. Resistance Band Leg Kicks
Known as one of the best floor exercises for seniors, resistance band leg kicks can significantly improve your core muscles. This exercise targets the hamstrings, glutes, quads, and adductors. Follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this exercise.
- Tie a tight loop at one end of your resistance band, and hold the other with your right hand up. The loop should be wrapped around your right leg.
- Place your elbows below your shoulders, and keep your glutes and abs tight.
- Gently lift the right leg and extend it backward with your toes touching the floor.
- Once this starting position is achieved, lift your right foot. While lifting, ensure your spine and leg are in the same line.
- Hold for a few seconds, then lower the foot.
- Lift it again before it touches the floor.
It should be repeated at least 10 times for both legs.
6. Seated Forward Bends
Next on our core strengthening exercises seniors list is the seated forward bends. It is a beginner yoga pose targeting the spine and hamstrings. This exercise involves hip flexors, glutes, lower back muscles, and calves. This easy yet effective exercise can be done following the below-mentioned steps.
- Sit comfortably on a chair, keeping your feet wider than shoulder-width. The shoulders should be rolled back, the spine straight, and the palms on the knees.
- Hinging from your waist, gently move your upper body forward and try to touch the floor with both hands.
- Hold this same position for 3 to 5 seconds before coming to the original position.
Repeat these steps at least 10 times for any results.
7. Seated Side Bends
If step exercises for seniors look overwhelming, start your core strengthening journey with this easy seating exercise. This exercise will stretch your obliques, neck, shoulders, and back. Seated side bends will primarily target your external and internal obliques. Follow the steps shared below to perform this exercise.
- Sit comfortably on a chair. Ensure you keep your hands open to the side, feet placed at shoulder-width apart, and spine kept straight.
- Now slowly bend to your right, trying to touch the floor using your right hand.
- Return to the original starting position and do the same with your left hand by bending to your left side.
Repeat this process at least 12 to 15 times.
8. Bird Dog
One of the core exercises seniors must try is the bird dog targeting the rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and glutes. It enables these muscles to correct their stability and movement control. If you have a lower back problem, this exercise can help. Follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this simple exercise.
- Get on all fours on flat ground and engage your core, keeping your neck, head, and spine in the same line.
- Gently raise your left leg and extend it behind you.
- Now raise your right hand and extend it in front.
- Hold this very position for 5 to 10 seconds, and then return to the original position.
Follow the same steps with the opposite leg and hand side. It should be done at least 3 to 5 times on both ends.
You should include a plank in your 20 minute exercise for seniors. This isometric core exercise requires you to hold the position similar to push-ups for the maximum possible time. A plank targets your gluteal muscles and quadriceps. Follow the below-mentioned steps to perform the plank correctly.
- Get on all fours, and flex your elbows, placing them on the floor.
- Extend your right and left leg behind, keeping your toes on the ground.
- Support your entire body on your toes and elbows, keeping your glutes and core engaged.
- Keep breathing normally and hold this position for at least 10 to 15 seconds. The longer you can hold, the better.
You can return to your normal position and repeat the entire process at least two times. If you are just starting, don’t try to hold this position for more than 30 seconds.
10. Lying Ankle Taps
Last on our list of easy core exercises for seniors is the lying ankle taps. This exercise targets your obliques, hips, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and other core muscles. You can practice this exercise by following the below-mentioned steps.
- Lay down comfortably on a mat, keeping your feet on the ground and your knees flexed.
- Your hands can be placed by your side, and your neck should be lifted slightly off the ground.
- Now try to bend to your right to touch the right ankle using your right hand.
- When done, return to the starting position, and repeat it with your left side.
Repeat this exercise at least 12 to 15 times on each side.
Worst Core Exercises for Seniors
Seniors should pick exercises that are safe yet effective. You wouldn’t want to indulge in activities that have the potential to hurt you while exercising. According to fitness experts, seniors should avoid doing sit-ups and crunches. These two exercises target a few muscles and have the potential risk of damaging your neck and back. We recommend starting with the exercises listed above, as they are safe for seniors and easy to perform. Additionally, you can avoid any uncomfortable and risky activity based on your current health condition.
Strengthen Your Core for Improved Body Balance & Better Fitness Levels
Call it core muscles or the second spine; it helps provide the required structural integrity and strength to your torso. It protects your abdominal organs and provides your body with the right balance and stability to perform everyday activities seamlessly. A weak core can make performing daily tasks like walking stairs, lifting weights, carrying a grocery bag, etc., challenging. Even walking upright can become arduous with weaker core muscles.
But you can improve all this by working on your core. Strengthening your core need not be a complicated and challenging task, so we have listed some effective, simple, and easy-to-do core exercises that seniors can start doing today. If you are new to core exercises, we recommend starting small. A regular core exercise routine of 15 to 20 minutes can help you improve muscle tone, posture, agility, flexibility, and more. So pick your top five exercises or more from the list covered above and start strengthening your core.
Does Walking Strengthen the Core?
Yes, walking can strengthen the core. It is an excellent daily exercise that delivers both core and anaerobic workouts. When you walk, your core muscles, like the quadriceps, hip flexors, gluteus, and calf muscles, get actively engaged. If you have been leading an inactive lifestyle, you can start brisk walking for at least 20 minutes daily to improve your core.
How Can I Engage my Core While Sitting?
You can follow a simple exercise while sitting tall in a chair to engage your core. Sit comfortably on a chair with your palms on top of your thighs and feet flat on the floor. Now press your right palm down into your right thigh while gently pressing your thigh up into the palm. Press your thighs and palms against each other till your abs feel tight. Hold the position for a few breaths, release, and repeat 10-15 times with the opposite side.
What are the Signs of a Strong Core?
If you have a very strong core, you can easily walk upright without swaying towards one or the other side. A strong core lets you walk without your upper body or hips swaying side-to-side. A good posture and ability to balance the body is also a sign of a strong core.
What Happens if You Don’t Engage Your Core?
You can revert to an anterior pelvic tilt if you don’t engage your core for a long time. It can also result in your back getting arched and your butt popping out of shape. All this puts much pressure on your lower back. The engaging core can help cut your over-reliance on other muscles, ensuring you have the power to perform every exercise or other day-to-day activity without trouble.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.