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3 Perfect Core Exercises for Seniors

Published April 11, 2019 Read Time: 6 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

<article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Why Should Seniors Exercise?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What Type of Exercise Should Seniors Do?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Why Are Core Exercises Important?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Which Muscles Are My Core?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Can I Strengthen My Core While Sitting in a Chair?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">3 Core Exercises for Seniors to Improve Stability</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Wrapping Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p align="justify">It doesn’t matter how old you are—you still need to exercise. As a senior, your high-intensity exercise days may be behind you, but a few smart workouts will have some amazing benefits for you. Seniors who exercise reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack, prevent falls, and live longer!</p> <p align="justify">One especially important area is core strength training. Your core muscles are the center of <i>all</i> movement, even <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>walking</b></a> or getting up off the couch. For seniors, a strong core helps you gain stability, balance, and coordination. </p> <p align="justify">In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of exercise and improved balance and coordination, plus the three best core exercises for seniors (some of which can be done from a chair or even in bed)!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section1"> <header>Why Should Seniors Exercise?</header> <p align="justify">Exercise burns calories, strengthens muscles, boosts energy, and elevates your mood. Believe it or not, good workouts also improve organ health. Your skin and brain are healthier when you exercise <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p align="justify">There are a few particular benefits of exercise worth highlighting for seniors, too. Working out increases bone density, improves balance and stability, and gives older people more confidence and independence <sup>2</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section2"> <header>What Type of Exercise Should Seniors Do?</header> <p align="justify">Seniors should do <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>low-impact exercises</b></a> that preserve joints but still strengthen and stabilize major muscles. Exercises that increase your balance and help you perform daily tasks easier (like squat variations to help you move up stairs) and resistance exercises that increase bone density should be your go-tos.</p> <p align="justify">Even going for walks offers a <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>ton of benefits</b></a> for seniors. Give earthing a shot if you’re up for a challenge.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section3"> <header>Why Are Core Exercises Important?</header> <p align="justify">Core exercises check all three of those boxes for seniors. A few simple core exercises will improve your balance and stability, make daily life easier, and give you a good resistance workout.</p> <p align="justify">Also, core exercises help strengthen the major muscles supporting your spine. Since many elderly people suffer from <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>lower back pain</b></a>, this is also a good reason to add core exercises to your routine.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section4"> <header>Which Muscles Are My Core?</header> <p align="justify">When people think of their core, they think of <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>the abs</b></a> and <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>lower back</b></a>. Those muscles are part of your core, but so are your hips and obliques.</p> <p align="justify">Because of their important function in stability, balance, and strength, one could argue your <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>glute muscles</b></a>—to a lesser extent—are also part of your core. </p> <p align="justify">The takeaway is that the muscles supporting your hips and spine play an important role in <i>all</i> movement, not just exercise.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section5"> <header>Can I Strengthen My Core While Sitting in a Chair?</header> <p align="justify">We’ve talked before about the perils of <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>sitting too much</b></a>. With many health professionals considering sitting to be this generation’s version of smoking, what are seniors to do if they spend a lot of time sitting in a chair? And, can you strengthen your core while sitting?</p> <p align="justify">The answer is yes! You can totally improve your core strength and stability while sitting. In fact, <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>this article</b></a> offers you three exercises you can do from a chair to help strengthen your core (plus two that will help slim your thighs).</p> <p align="justify">Strengthening your core from a chair comes down to one thing: activating your core muscles so your spine is supported. Most people who have back pain or problems from sitting in a chair too much slouch, so their spine is in a compromised position. </p> <p align="justify">An example of activating your core is the ‘hollow’ position Coach Tyler demonstrates in kneeling planks (below).</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section6"> <header>3 Core Exercises for Seniors to Improve Stability</header> <p align="justify">Here are three exercises you can do at home to improve core strength and stability.</p> <div style="text-align:center;"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <ol> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Simple Side Bends</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Remember that your core isn’t just your abs, but other muscles, too. Simple side bends strengthen the obliques, which are located on your sides and help you rotate your spine. Many refer to the obliques as their ‘love handle’ area.</p> <p align="justify">To do standing side bends, start with your feet shoulder-width apart. That’s all the floor space you’ll need. Start by kicking your left hip to the opposite side. Your right hip will shoot out while the left shoulder dips. You’ll feel a stretch down your side the further you go but start slow and don’t go too far. Once you reach a good point, bend back up to a stand and do the other side.</p> <p align="justify">Side bends help improve your core flexibility and can alleviate back pain if the obliques or muscles in your back are tight.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Core Exercise Challenge</b>: Do twenty standing side bends (ten on each side) then take a two-minute break. Do two more sets of twenty.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=" "> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt=" tyler-x-ups"> </picture> <b><li><div class="sub-head">X-Ups</div></li></b> <p align="justify">If you thought core exercises from a chair sounded good, how about core exercises in bed?</p> <p align="justify">To do X-ups, press your lower back into the bed. Think about ‘smashing’ the mattress with your lower back. When you do this, you’ll feel the muscles in your core activate. Take your heels off the floor (or mattress) and bend at the knees, bringing your knees toward the head.</p> <p align="justify">Alternate sides. Bring the right arm to your left knee, then the left arm to the right knee. Keep the leg not working off the mattress or floor to keep your core activated.</p> <p align="justify">This is another core exercise that strengthens the obliques. </p> <p align="justify">Coach Tyler breaks down <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>the x-up</b></a> starting at 11:21.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Core Exercise Challenge</b>: Do a set of ten to twenty X-ups every morning for the next week. If you don’t want to do them in bed, find a comfortable spot on the floor. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=" "> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt=" tyler-kneeling-planks"> </picture> <b><li><div class="sub-head">Kneeling Plank</div></li></b> <p align="justify">Kneeling planks are one of a few variations of planks we love for activating your core. They are great for seniors and beginners because they are easy to modify. </p> <p align="justify">Begin with your hands, elbows, knees, and feet on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and bring your pelvis into a ‘hollow’ position—as you’ll see above, it looks like an exaggerated hunch. Actually, Coach Tyler’s abs, glutes, and lower back muscles are all squeezed tightly.</p> <p align="justify">With your arms and elbows on the ground, stay in this hollow position. Your goal is to keep the body in one straight line, so take a break if you find your hips sagging low or if you need to go into ‘downward dog’ to rest.</p> <p align="justify"><b>Core Exercise Challenge</b>: Do three sets of thirty seconds of kneeling planks. Rest one minute between sets. Every time you do kneeling planks, add two to three seconds to make it a little more challenging.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section7"> <header>Wrapping Up</header> <p align="justify">Core exercises for seniors improve stability and balance in your muscles, improve your daily life, and even help you live longer! </p> <p align="justify">For seniors, the best core workouts are low-impact and joint preserving but also force muscles to stabilize your spine and get stronger. A few simple but effective core workouts per week will make you stronger, improve your posture, and even alleviate back pain. All you need is some floor space, a chair, or even your bed.</p> <p align="justify">For more at-home workouts and low-impact exercise advice for seniors, check out <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>Warrior Made</b></a>’s <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>YouTube channel</b></a> and our <a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer"><b>exercise blog</b></a>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><p align="justify"><a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer">The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise</a></p></li> <li><p align="justify"><a target="_blank" href=""rel="noreferrer">Exercise for Your Bone Health</a></p></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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