The core is comprised of the back muscles and the abdominal muscles also including the muscles situated along the spine and the pelvis and hip muscles. A strong core contributes essentially to your overall health, and lack thereof increases your chances of injuries from falls because of limited mobility.
Every move one makes comes from the core, and this would mean that a weakened core would make other muscles have to put in more effort to compensate. This is what contributes to injuries in seniors most of the time because aging comes with the loss of muscle and strength in the body seeing as one tends to sit more thus not using the critical core muscles as often.
The importance of core strengthening for seniors
Strength training has been shown to slow down the aging process overall. Therefore, a workout regimen incorporating core strengthening exercises is vital for seniors. Training your core enhances your posture, coordination, stability; it improves your stamina and most importantly protects you from injury. Some of the primary benefits of core strengthening exercises for seniors include:
- Prevention of injuries which, for older people, especially, is quite vital, because at this stage, it is harder to heal from an injury compared to avoiding one all the same.
- Core strengthening exercises have been shown to improve overall body strength for older adults by a whopping 30% average not to mention stronger core muscles provide for an increase in the range of motion.
- A majority of seniors suffer from lower back pain, and core strengthening helps in the stretching of these muscles in the process, thus aiding in management and reducing of pain caused by chronic conditions.
- The core helps to support the spine which helps to improve stability and balance, meaning one will have a better sense of their center of gravity allowing for more confident movement.
- A weak core makes performing menial daily tasks difficult even walking down a snowy sidewalk, therefore, strengthening the core gives one better reaction time and helps with ordinary tasks such as climbing stairs.
Recommended Core Exercises for Elderly
Planks are great for strengthening the deep muscles in the core which are not easy to target. However, engaging these inner, deep muscles by learning to draw in the belly button helps to develop them leading to a greater awareness of the posture and the body. Planks strengthen the traverse abdominal muscles and stabilize them. I think it is one of the best abdominal exercises for seniors.
- Place a chair against a wall away from other furniture and in a safe place and position it to face you.
- Stand while facing the chair and put the heels of your hands on the seat near the chair’s front legs at the corners.
- Walk the feet back till your head, shoulders, hips and feet are aligned straight in a long line
- Ensure you can comfortably hold the position by adjusting the distance of your feet to the chair
- Unlock your elbows and gaze forward with your hands lined up under your shoulders then squeeze your heels together.
- Hold the position for as long as you can focus on drawing the belly button in towards your spine and perform 3-5 repetitions
Seated knee lifts
Knee lifts are a very progressive exercise regardless of your fitness level as they help you build up inner core strength. Given this movement’s single-sided nature, it encourages improved balance and contributes to generating low abdominal strength. They encourage the trunk’s core stabilization.
- Sit up tall on a sturdy chair towards the end of the seat
- With maximum control, engage the lower abdominals and lift a knee by 3-4 inches and hold the position for about 5 seconds.
- Lower the leg
- Repeat the same action on the other leg
- Begin with 6-8 on each leg and work up to about 10 or 12 reps
As you obtain strength with this movement, challenge yourself by trying it in a standing position.
Oblique side bends
Including this exercise to your workout routine gives your core and trunk more spinal support and stabilization not to mention it also helps with other movements you perform in your daily life. It works the obliques, which run up the sides of the trunk and are essential for the core’s supportive structure but more often than not are neglected. All you need is a sturdy kitchen chair.
- Sit up tall towards the end of the chair with the feet flat on the floor
- Elongate your spine as if a string was pulling the crown of your head towards the roof and another was pulling down from the tailbone to the ground
- Place the fingertips behind your ears with the elbows out wide.
- Bend to 1 side after exhaling while trying not to lean forward.
- Hold your position for about 2 seconds and return back to the center of the chair still sitting tall
- Repeat the same movement for the other side
- Begin with 6-8 for every side and work about 10 -12 reps
The pelvis is situated in the region of the lower abdominals and in order to strengthen these muscles to support the torso and the pelvis, pelvic tilts work into the deeper lower abdominals.
- Sit in a chair with the spine elongated and bring your hands to the thighs.
- Breathe in deeply and exhale while drawing the navel into the spine hollowing out your belly and scooping the tailbone under.
- To release back, inhale deeply and as you do this exercise, your back will round. Repeat for 10-12 rounds.