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Our Favorite Core Exercises for Seniors



Think of your core as your body’s mission control center. Hard at work every waking moment to keep you balanced and stable, your core acts as a force transfer center making it possible for you to bend, twist, get up from a chair, put away groceries, or just walk down the street. Core muscles naturally weaken as we age and if we don’t take steps to strengthen them, well…Houston, we’ll have a problem. We’ve shared our top exercises for older adults, but these tips focus specifically on the all-important core. 

What is the Core Exactly?

As the term implies, our core is literally the body’s center. Basically, if it’s not your head, arm, or leg, it’s probably part of the group of muscles that make up the core. The rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, and torso, gluteal and pelvic floor muscles which support the bladder and other organs, are all considered key elements of the core machinery that keeps us up and moving.  

Focused on keeping that core toned and strong, these basic core exercises for seniors are designed to improve stability, coordination, posture, and stamina while reducing the risk of injury.

WOOD CHOPS

Wood chops will challenge your balance while working almost every core muscle. The movement involved is similar to that of loading and unloading the dishwasher. 

  • Hold your hands together in front of you while your feet are a bit wider than your shoulders.

  • Raise your arms to the left side of your head.

  • Properly squat down as you do a chopping motion of your arms diagonally towards the opposite side of your body. Keep your core tight as you do so.

  • Repeat the chopping motion back to the top.

  • Do at least 10 reps and then switch to the other side.

SIDE BENDS

Targeting the oblique muscles along the sides of your trunk, this exercise not only strengthens but also works on range of motion.

  • Sit on a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Put your right hand on the back of your head and the left arm outstretched to one side.

  • Mimic the motion of reaching toward the floor by leaning over to your left side.

  • As you bend over, tighten your oblique muscles then return to the initial position.

  • Remember not to let your chest fall forward. As you do the exercise, keep your feet flat on the floor.

  • Repeat for at least five times on each side.

PELVIC TILTS

As core exercises for older adults go, this one is as easy as it is beneficial. Pelvic tilts both stimulate and strengthen the lower abdominals that are critical in supporting the pelvis and torso. 

  • Sit on a sturdy chair and keep your back straight as you put your hand on your thighs.

  • Take a deep breath and then exhale as you draw your navel into the spine – hollowing your belly and tucking in your tailbone.

  • Inhale deeply to release back to starting position.

  • Repeat for about 10-12 times.

CHAIR PLANKS

One of the best core exercises for seniors is the chair plank. These work on muscles not easily engaged by other exercises. It also helps improve posture. All you need is a wall and a sturdy chair facing you up against it.

  • As you face the chair, stand straight and place the heels of your hands on the edge of the seat – by the front legs on both corners.

  • Hold that position and take a few steps back until your head, shoulders, hips, and feet from a long line.

  • Make sure you are comfortable with the distance between your feet and the chair, so you can hold the position comfortably while maintaining the proper position.

  • Squeeze your heels together and ensure that your hands and shoulders are aligned straightly.

  • Stay in this position for 30 seconds or as long as you can. Concentrate on tightening your core by drawing your belly button towards the spine. Do this exercise for three to five repetitions.

SUPERMAN

Targeting the lower and upper back as well as the glutes, Superman is a great beginning core exercise for seniors as it can be performed in stages. At first, lift one arm and the opposite leg. As you gradually develop more strength, work up to lifting both arms and legs. Start by lying face down on a mat.

  • Place your outstretched arms in front of you and then lift the left arm together with your head and right leg. Around two inches from the floor would be good.

  • As you slowly raise your leg, make sure to squeeze your glute muscles, so you alleviate the pressure you feel on your lower back and tighten your core.

  • Return to the starting position and repeat the process on the opposite side.

  • Repeat five times on each side.

 

Incorporating core strengthening exercises into your regular fitness routine will improve your quality of life by supporting both your muscle tone and your continued independence and freedom of movement. At its very, well…core, it is a gift you give yourself. As always, we recommend checking with your medical practitioner or physician before starting any new workout routine