As people get older, it’s common for them to slow down. They may start exercising less. Injuries may cause stiffness or pain when they try to do core strengthening exercises.
Core exercises can help. Here are a few things to know about core strengthening for seniors.
Why Does Poor Core Strength Matter?
Over time, it’s not uncommon to see seniors who have poor core strength. Poor core strength may lead to problems such as:
- Poor balance
- Core instability
When the muscles in the body aren’t working correctly, they may also cause pain and dysfunction. That’s why seniors focusing on core strengthening may be less likely to get hurt doing normal day-to-day activities.
Seniors have several options to strengthen their cores: Yoga classes, functional movement techniques, and direct core training. Each of these helps keep seniors flexible and moving as they age.
Core strengthening yoga classes, one low-impact option, may be an excellent place to start since they focus on flexibility, movement, and strength. Before choosing any exercises, seniors should speak with their primary care providers to be sure it’s safe to begin.
How Do Seniors Choose the Right Exercises for Core Strengthening?
The core muscles include the long rectus abdominis muscles, transversus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques. These muscles range between the lower rib cage and buttocks.
For seniors, the worst core exercises increase the risk of straining the neck or overworking the hip flexors, such as sit-ups or crunches. There are alternatives that seniors can do safely at almost any age.
The first exercise to try is a bridge. A bridge differs from a backbend, though the two exercises are sometimes confused.
For a bridge, seniors need to lie flat on the floor with their feet hip-width apart. They should place their arms at their sides, flat on the ground. Then, by tightening the buttocks, they can lift the hips off the floor to create a straight line with the hips and shoulders.
Seniors should relax carefully back to the ground and repeat this movement several times.
Planks are another excellent exercise for seniors. A standard plank starts with lying on the floor. Then, seniors push up fully with their arms. Balancing on their toes, they make a straight line between the toes and shoulders. Planks, like bridges, are repeated several times in succession.
There is a modified plank for those who can’t do a standard plank. For the modification, seniors only have to rest on their knees rather than their toes. Keeping the back straight and abdominal muscles tight, they should hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
Opposite Arm and Leg Lifts
A third exercise seniors should try is called opposite arm and leg raises. This exercise requires seniors to kneel on all fours. Then, keeping the head and spine in that neutral position, they should lift their right arm and left leg to become parallel with the floor.
At first, seniors can try to hold the position for at least 10 seconds before returning to a neutral position and switching sides.
How Often Should Seniors Exercise?
Adults 65 and older need to exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. That exercise has to include moderate-intensity activity, similar to brisk walking. If that’s too much time to exercise, seniors can reduce their time in the gym or exercise classes by completing 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. Jogging, hiking, or running fall into the vigorous category.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends setting aside at least two days’ worth of activities for strengthening muscles. Yoga classes fall into this category most of the time. They help strengthen the core muscles, stretch the body, and encourage flexibility.
Where Can Seniors Get Help With Their Core Strength?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and GreenFields Continuing Care Community report that when seniors move better, they prevent disease and may reduce their likelihood of having an accident or getting hurt due to falls. Spending time finding quality exercises and maintaining muscle strength can help improve their quality of life. To save time, seniors can try a yoga class, which helps retrain the body for better movement. Visit our website to learn more.