10 Core Exercises For Seniors To Improve Their Stability

Reviewed by Alex Crockford, Fitness Coach
By Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Try doing core exercises designed for seniors to stay fit. With age come several challenges like reduced bone strength and density and muscle weakness (1), (2). This, in turn, affects coordination, balance, and gait. You must focus on strengthening your core to regain muscle and bone strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, and fitness.

“A strong, functional core aids in the very basics like good breathing and posture. Good seated and standing posture keeps the center of mass where it needs to be, helping to prevent falls,” says Michael Julom (ACE-CPT, CFL1 Trainer). “Everyday activities people do late into life, such as getting out of bed and putting away the dishes, depend, at least in part, on core muscles,” he adds.

To lead a good quality of life, read this post. Get yourself a therapy band, a good mat, and a stable chair to do these 10 best core strengthening exercises for adults over 50. Do them for 15-20 minutes a day. Scroll down!

What Is ‘Core’?

We often use ‘core’ while referring to the ab muscles. But, technically, the core muscles act as a boundary to the organs between the diaphragm and pelvic area. Michael Julom explains, “The core refers to the system of muscles that surround the midsection, both in front and in back. The core contributes to the structure and strength of the torso and helps protect the abdominal organs. It’s been referred to as the second spine.”

“Muscles of the core include the rectus abdominis (aka “the abs,” which make up the washboard appearance when they’re developed), the transverse abdominis, the internal and external obliques, the spinus erectors, and the multifidus and muscles deep inside the pelvis,” he says (3), (4).

Why is it so important to keep your core strong? Scroll down to find out.

Why Do I Need To Strengthen The Core?

Without a strong core, it would get difficult to perform day-to-day tasks like lifting objects, walking, standing up, etc. It could also lead to falls and cause one to depend on assistance to do regular tasks. In addition, osteoporosis, muscle loss, knee and back pain may make it worse. That is why it is best to do a few exercises every day to keep your core strong.

Below, you will find 10 low-impact core exercises designed for mature adults. Take a look at them and do them at home with or without assistance.

Note: Talk to your doctor before starting them and do a 10-minute warm-up.

10 Core Exercises For Seniors (With Pictures)

1. Marching In Place

How To Do

  •  Lie down on the mat or a flat surface.
  •  Flex your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Keep your hands by your side or on top of the belly. Look at the ceiling. This is the starting position.
  •  Lift your right leg off the floor. Keep the knee flexed so that your lower leg and thigh are at 90 degrees to each other.
  •  Bring your knee right above your pelvis.
  •  Place your foot back on the mat.
  •  Do the same with the left foot.
  •  Do this 10-15 times.

2. March With Leg Extension

How To Do

  •  Lie down on the mat or a flat surface.
  •  Flex your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Your hands should be by your side or on top of your belly. Look at the ceiling. This is the starting position.
  •  Lift your right leg off the floor and keep the knee flexed so that your lower leg and thigh are at 90 degrees to each other.
  •  Bring your knee right above your pelvis.
  •  Extend your leg in the front.
  •  Pause for a moment and bring your leg back to the flexed position.
  •  Place your foot back on the mat.
  •  Do the same with the left foot.
  •  Do this 10-15 times.

3. Isometric Core Strengthening

How To Do

  •  Lie down on the mat, with your knees flexed and feet flat on the floor.
  •  Keeping your knee flexed, lift your right leg off the floor.
  •  Bring your knee right above your pelvis.
  •  Place your palms on the right thigh.
  •  Push your palms and thigh against each other.
  •  Hold for 3 seconds and release.
  •  Put your foot down on the floor.
  •  Do the same with the left foot.
  •  Do this 10 times.

4. Resistance Band Leg Kicks

How To Do

  •  Grab a resistance band and tie a loop at one end.
  •  Hold the other end with your right hand, wrap the loop around your right leg, and get on all fours.
  •  Keep your elbows right below your shoulders, and the abs and glute tight.
  •  Lift your right leg off the floor and extend it back with your toes touching the floor. This is the starting position.
  •  Lift your right foot off the floor. Keeping it extended, lift it until your leg and spine are in the same line.
  •  Lower your foot.
  •  Just before it touches the floor, lift it again.
  •  Do this 10 times before switching legs.

5. Sitting Oblique Twists

How To Do

  •  Sit on a chair. Keep your spine straight, shoulders rolled back, and hands resting on your thighs. Look ahead.
  •  Bring your hands together in front of your chest, with the elbows out. This is the starting position.
  •  Looking ahead, turn your upper body to the right and then to the left.
  •  Do this 10-15 times.

6. Seated Side Bends

How To Do

  •  Sit on a chair. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, hands open to the side, spine straight, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  •  Bend to the right and try to touch the floor with your right hand.
  •  Come back up and bend to the left side.
  •  Do this 12 times.

7. Seated Forward Bends

How To Do

  •  Sit on a chair, with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, spine straight, palms on the knees, and shoulders rolled back. Look straight ahead. This is the starting position.
  •  Hinging from the waist, bend forward and try to touch the floor with your hands.
  •  Hold the position for 5 seconds and come back up.
  •  Do this 10 times.

8. Bird Dog

How To Do

  •  Get on all fours on a mat. Engage your core and keep your spine, neck, and head in the same line.
  •  Lift your left leg off the floor and extend it behind you.
  •  Lift your right hand off the floor and extend it in front of you.
  •  Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
  •  Get back to the starting position.
  •  Now, lift your right leg and extend it behind you.
  •  Lift your left hand off the floor and extend it in front of you.
  •  Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
  •  Repeat this set 3 times.

9. Lying Ankle Taps

How To Do

  •  Lie down on a mat. Keep your knees flexed, and feet flat on the floor.
  •  Keep your hands by your side and lift your neck slightly off the floor.
  •  Bend to your right and try to touch the right ankle with your right hand.
  •  Come back to the starting position.
  •  Bend to the left and try to touch the left ankle with the left hand.
  •  Do this 12 times.

10. Plank

How To Do

  •  Get on all fours. Flex your elbows and place them on the floor.
  •  Extend your right leg behind with the toes on the floor.
  •  Extend your left leg behind.
  •  Support your body on your elbows and toes.
  •  Keep your core and glutes engaged.
  •  Keep breathing and hold this position for 10-30 seconds.
  •  Relax for 30 seconds and repeat two more times.

These are the 10 core strengthening exercises that older adults can do to improve trunk stabilization and balance. But keep in mind that aging can cause many other problems that can make exercising difficult, and sometimes, it is not advisable to do certain movements. A common problem is back pain. Read the next section to know if you can do core strengthening exercises with back pain.

Can I Do Core Exercises With Back Pain?

Yes. You can do seated or lying exercises with back pain. Avoid exercises like planks and leg back kicks unless you have a personal trainer around. You must also avoid lifting heavyweights.

Apart from protecting your back, there are some precautions to take while exercising to strengthen your core muscles. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Precautions To Take

• Avoid fast and jerky movements and exercises.
• Avoid lifting heavy objects.
Practice good sitting and standing postures.
• Make sure the chair is stable and sturdy.
• Eat a balanced diet.
• Add protein to every meal.
• Consume nuts and seeds.
• Consume calcium-fortified foods.
• Talk to your doctor to know which supplements to take.

Core muscles, often referred to as the second spine, provide structural integrity and strength to the torso and protection to abdominal organs. Weakness in core muscles may increase the risk of falls, osteoporosis, and joint pain and make it challenging to perform day-to-day tasks. Core exercises for seniors such as marching in place, marching with leg extension, seated side bends, resistance band sidekicks, and lying ankle taps are all low impact and should be done daily for 20-25 minutes. These exercises can greatly benefit your muscle tone and improve your posture, agility, flexibility, and gait without causing any harm or exacerbating any underlying conditions. If you have knee or back pain, the seated and lying exercises discussed here may be more suitable for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does walking strengthen your core?

Yes, it may strengthen the core muscles.

Does holding your stomach strengthen your core?

Yes. It may activate your core muscles and strengthen them. However, it may not give you a six-pack.

Key Takeaways

  • Daily tasks, for instance, lifting objects, walking, standing up, and more, will be difficult if the core is not strong.
  • Some core exercises for seniors include marching in place, marching with leg extension, isometric core strengthening, resistance band leg kicks, and sitting oblique twists.
  • If you have back pain, you can do seated or lying exercises to strengthen the core. Avoid planks and leg back kicks, or do them only if supervised by a personal trainer. Do not lift heavyweights.

References:

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Muscle weakness in the elderly: role of sarcopenia dynapenia and possibilities for rehabilitation
    https://eurapa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1007/s11556-012-0102-8
  2. Aging and bone loss: new insights for the clinician
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22870496/
  3. Core Stability Training for Injury Prevention
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3806175/
  4. Core stability exercise principles
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296944/
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author
Charushila is an ISSA certified Fitness Nutritionist and a Physical Exercise Therapist. Over a span of 5 years, she has... more

Alex Crockford

(Fitness Coach)
Alex is a certified personal trainer and a well known personality in the fitness industry with a large social media... more

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