Your core comprises of abdominal muscles and back muscles, including the muscles along the spine, as well as your hips and pelvis muscles. A strong core improves all functional movement, increases balance and stability, recovers posture and reduces the risk of falling. A weak core increases your chances of injuries from falls due to poor balance and limited mobility. Thus, it’s necessary for your overall health.
As a matter of fact, every move that you make is effectuated from your core. So unless you core is strong, other muscles will need to work harder to compensate. A weak core contributes to injuries and reduces overall balance and functionality. This is a key cause for injuries in older adults. Moreover, aging comes along with the loss of muscle and strength in the body – a strong core becomes even all the more important.
Benefits Of Core Strengthening Exercises For Elderly
Especially for seniors, core exercises strengthen muscles, develop coordination and improve balance. Having a strong core enhances your posture, coordination, balance and stability to prevent falls and injuries that may occur otherwise. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball, mopping the floor, or just getting out of a car, the necessary motions to do these movements originate from your core.
Read on for some of the primary benefits of core strengthening exercises for older adults:
(i) Prevention Of Injuries: Prevention of injuries is especially important for older people. In the old age, it is harder to heal from an injury than avoiding one.
(ii) Overall Strength: Studies have shown that by doing exercises to strengthen core muscles one can improve body strength of older adults by an average of 30%. Moreover, stronger core muscles allows for an increase in range of motion, too.
(iii) Preventing Or Reducing Back Pain: Majority of the older adults suffer from lower back pain. Core exercises help stretching and strengthening the muscles supporting lower back. As a result your lower back muscles get strong which help in reducing lower back pain from chronic conditions.
(iii) Improve Spine Support: A strong core helps to support your spine, which in turn keep you balanced, and stable. These exercises also improve sense of your center of gravity leading to more stable movement.
(iv) Make Every Day Routine Tasks Easier: With a weak core, you find it difficult doing even daily routine tasks like getting up out of a chair, carrying grocery bags, etc. On the other hand, a strong core provides you better reaction time and helps in ordinary physical activities, like climbing stairs.
Best Core Strengthening Exercises For Older Adults
The best part about core workouts is that you don’t have to go to a gym. You just require a mat, carpeted floor or chair. No exercising equipment is needed to strengthen your core.
Here are some of the best core exercises for the elderly to improve balance and strengthen their core, which they can perform from the comfort of their home:
Bridge Exercise To Strengthen Core
The bridge engages isometric contraction to augment strength in your buttocks, lower back & abdominals and improve balance.
(i) Lie flat on your back, keeping your knees bent and feet flat against the floor.
(ii) While breathing steadily, tighten your core and raising your hips until a straight line is formed between your knees and your chest. Remember not to arch your back. Hold for a count of three breaths, returning to the starting position. Repeat five times.
Watch this video to learn Bridge exercise for strengthening your core:
Superman Core Strengthening Workout
The Superman exercise strengthens your lower back and promotes stability and coordination.
(i) Lie face down on your stomach with your arms outstretched in front of you.
(ii) Raise your head, neck and your right arm and left leg about 2 inches off the floor. Lower and repeat on the opposite side.
Note: Keep your belly button drawn in toward your spine during the movement and clear away any strain from your neck. You may feel the exercise is too difficult for you in the beginning. If so, lift only one arm or one leg per repetition. Repeat five times on each side.
Watch this video to learn how to do Superman exercise
Leg Lifts Core Strengthening Exercise
Leg lifts work your lower abdominal muscles. Lie flat on your back with legs flat and feet relaxed. Contract your abdominal muscles while raising one leg about 5 inches off the floor. Hold the position for a count of three. Lower and repeat with the other leg. Repeat five times on each side.
Learn here how to do Leg lifts:
Seated Side Bends Core Workout
Our oblique muscles run along the outside of our trunk and help in rotation and side bending. Seated side bends is a good exercise to strengthen them.
(i) Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
(ii) Place one hand behind your head and the other arm outstretched to one side. Lean over to the side as if you are going to touch floor, tightening the oblique muscles running along the side of your body in the process.
(iii) Return to your initial position and repeat on the opposite side. Do five times on each side.
Note: Remember not to allow your chest to fall forward and try to keep both feet flat on the floor.
Read here for Stretching exercises to improve flexibility in old age
Lying Down Bicycle Exercise For Core
This core workout provides a more stimulating exercise to activate your core muscles and improve coordination.
(i) Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, same as if you are doing a crunch.
(ii) Bend your knees and lift your feet, so your calves are parallel with the floor.
(iii) Drawing in your belly button and exhaling, bring one knee into your chest while reaching toward it with the opposite elbow. Do this movement with your opposite side.
Do it for 30 seconds. Rest for one minute, and then perform again for another 30-second set. You may do 3 to 4 sets.
Read here to learn how to strengthen your lower back
The above exercises are a great way for elderly to improve their overall core strength.