Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

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Core exercises like yoga and tai chi are helpful for staying healthy as your body ages.

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

As your body ages, your muscles lose strength and elasticity without regular exercise. According to a study published in "Gerontology," core strengthening exercises are positively correlated with increased postural stability, better balance and decreased risk of falling. If you are new to exercise, injured or suffering from a chronic disease, speak to your doctor before starting core strengthening exercises.

Sit and Side Bend

If you are chair or wheelchair bound, you can still practice gentle core-strengthening exercises while sitting down. To perform seated side bends, sit up tall with a straight spine. Brace your abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button back toward your spine. Extend your arms overhead if possible and curl your upper chest and spine over to the right. Make sure that your left buttock stays planted to the chair throughout the entire exercise. Hold the stretch for one to two counts, return to the center and switch sides. To add more resistance to this exercise, hold light dumbbells or a medicine ball at chest-height.

Splish and Splash

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, exercising in water strengthens your muscles - including your core muscles - without putting extra strain on your joints. To exercise your core in the pool, perform a twisting exercise that mimics the dance craze "The Twist." If you are not a confident swimmer, try this exercise with a flotation vest instead. Hold on to the side of the pool with both hands behind your back, facing toward the center of the pool. Draw your knees in toward your chest and twist both knees smoothly to the left and right sides of the body. For an extra challenge, release the side of the pool and twist your upper body in the opposite direction of your knees.

Try the Hissing Locust Pose

The yoga pose known as "locust" requires you to get down on the floor. If you are unable to perform this pose on the floor, try lying in bed instead. Lie down on your front, with the center of your forehead on the floor and the tops of your feet pressed into the floor. Extend your arms out in front of the body, as if you were Superman flying through the air. Press your pubic bone into the floor to stabilize your pelvis and lower abdominals. Using the strength of your core muscles, lift your arms, shoulders and upper chest off the floor as high as you can. Hold this position for one to two counts before returning your body back to the floor.

Build a Bridge Pose

Bridge pose not only strengthens your core muscles, it also targets your hips, thighs and buttocks. Traditionally, bridge pose is performed on the floor, but if you have mobility issues, try performing this pose on your bed instead. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms by your sides, palms facing down and lift your hips as high as you can. Tilt your pelvis toward your chest to protect your lower back. Hold this position for one to two counts before slowly and gently lowering your hips back down to the bed.

Act Like a Bird-Dog

Bird-dog is an exercise described by the American Council on Exercise as a core and back strengthener. To perform this exercise, start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. If you feel discomfort in your knee joints, place a folded towel or pillow under your knees for extra padding and support. Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Simultaneously, extend your right arm away from your body, parallel to the floor and extend your left leg away from your body. Hold this position for one to two counts before switching sides.


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