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Stop the crunches! If you truly want to improve your core’s strength and stability, the following core exercises for seniors are meant for you.
Many times, when performing exercises, we’re told to “brace our core” — but how do you do that?
The most popular core muscle, the Rectus Abdominis (well known as our six pack), is commonly confused as being the entire core. However, it’s just one piece.
The Rectus Abdominis sits on the front of the stomach, creating that six-pack look many are familiar with, but the core muscles are much more extensive. It’s helpful to understand this concept when following and practicing our printable core exercises for seniors with pictures included.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the core muscles necessary to address in order to have a strong core. You’ll find these exact muscle groups are what we’re trying to engage with our printable core exercises for seniors with pictures included.
Table of Contents
Core Muscles to Focus on for Best Core Strength
If you really want to have a strong core, then these are the muscles you need to include in your core exercise routine.
The Pelvic Floor Muscles
A web of muscles which acts like a basket holding up some very important organs: the bladder, the intestine, and for women the uterus.
Buried beneath other abdominal muscles, this thick muscle wraps around your abdomen and serves as a girdle to keep your heart strong and balanced.
A group of short, thick, triangular muscles that run along the spine for stabilization.
Internal and External Obliques
A large, thin muscle sheet located at the sides of the abdomen working to shift the trunk, sustain normal abdominal tension, and increase intra-abdominal pressure.
Informally known as the abs muscle, the rectus abdominis works to flex the trunk forward.
These back muscles are on either side of the vertebral column. They are long muscles that run deep in the back to the left and right of the spine to provide resistance of bending, twisting at the waist to promote an erect position.
Located below the lungs, this large, dome-shaped muscle contracts rhythmically and continually, and most of the time, involuntarily to assist with respiration.
The most superficial of the gluteal muscles that adds shape to your posterior, as well as extending and rotating the hip joint.
If it isn’t an arm, leg, or head, it’s probably part of your core.
Now, if you would like a more in-depth explanation of each of these core muscles, as well as more information about the most effective core exercises for seniors, check out this article.
Why Core Strength is Vital to Active Aging
For aging adults, concentrating on core strength becomes more and more relevant. The gradual loss of core muscle tissue with the aging process typically starts as early as your mid-30s. That’s why including a regular routine of core exercises when you’re younger, as well as you age, is so important for your overall health!
While you might not realize it at the time, without sufficient resistance training, core strength is likely to have deteriorated so much so that by the time you turn 50, everyday life and physical activity is made more difficult.
That’s why we were so motivated to create these printable core exercises for seniors with pictures!
Maintaining core strength and stability impacts your ability to keep the spine supported throughout the day, especially during twisting, bending, and turning movements.
From enjoyable activities like swinging a golf club to more laborious work like pushing a shovel on a driveway, all of these are impacted by the strength of your core.
Without strong core muscles, the likelihood of injury skyrockets!
A weak core can make you more susceptible to develop pain and injuries, such as with back pain. It can also increase your chances of experiencing balance-related injuries, due to weak core muscles being a contributing factor for increasing your fall risk.
However, a recent study found that regular core exercises for seniors helped to improve balance in adults 60 to 80 years old! As well, increasing your core strength can also help improve your joint pain.
Many movements stem from the core, and without the proper prerequisite strength, dysfunction in the lower back, hips, ankles, and even shoulders can arise as they become more unstable.
The Best 6 core exercises for older adults
Following a proper routine of core exercises for seniors that focuses on core strengthening exercises — specifically the transverse abdominis — may help mitigate these risks.
The transverse abdominis (often shortened to TVA) acts as the key stabilizer for the entire low back and abdominal muscles.
Many times, by strengthening this specific muscle, all other core muscle functions improve.
Follow the below core exercises for seniors to increase TVA strength, relieve back pain, and regain your way of life once again.
Don’t feel like you have to have these memorized when practicing. Remember, we’ve made these printable core exercises for seniors with pictures included just for you!
1. Abdominal Bracing
Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis
Begin on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. You can also do these on your bed if you’re not comfortable getting up and down from the floor.
Exhale and draw your belly button in towards your spine (as if there was a string pulling on the inside of your belly button from the ground). Hold for 5 seconds before relaxing.
Repeat 10 times.
This movement will be the basis for all other core exercises to follow.
2. Hip Lifts
Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis, Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings
On your tenth rep of exercise one, stay in the braced position. Drive some weight into your heels, tightening your gluteal muscles to raise your hips up.
This should create a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Hold for 5 seconds before relaxing.
Repeat 10 times.
Make sure to re-brace with each rep, pushing that lower back into the ground/bed before lifting up again.
Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis
Now, from the braced position reviewed in exercise one, raise your arms so they are reaching straight up toward the ceiling.
Pull your belly button in towards your spine again, then slowly lift up your right leg, maintaining the bend in your knee.
With your left hand, push into your right knee and hold for 5 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
Repeat for 5 reps on each side.
Match your breath to the movement as done with the first exercise. Inhale and draw your belly button in; exhale and perform the movement. Hold & repeat.
Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis, Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi
Now, flip from your back to your belly. Use a mat or blanket for cushioning or place a pillow underneath your belly for extra comfort.
Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms on the ground or bed.
Tighten your core as you have done previously, lifting one arm about two inches off the floor on each exhale. Lower and repeat on the opposite side.
Perform 5 reps on each side.
Be sure not to arch your lower back when performing this movement.
5. Bird Dog
Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis, Glutes, Hamstrings, Multifidus
Gently push yourself up from the lying position to a tabletop position.
Your knees will be directly under your hips, hip-width apart, and your hands will be firmly on the ground or bed, directly underneath the shoulders, about shoulder-width apart.
Brace the abdominals. Extend your left leg behind you and right arm, forming one straight line from the tips of your fingers to your heel, keeping hips squared to the ground.
Raise your leg only as high as you can while keeping your back straight. Hold for 5 seconds, then return. Switch to the other side.
Perform 5 reps on each side.
If this exercise feels too challenging, just do the leg lift and keep both hands planted on the ground.
6. Side Bends
Muscles Targeted: Transverse Abdominis, Obliques
For the final movement, you will move up to sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift one arm straight up the ceiling and the other arm hanging down to one side.
Draw your belly button into your spine and maintain good posture throughout the entire movement.
Gently lean over to the hanging arm side as if reaching toward the floor. Contract your obliques and return to the starting position in a controlled manner.
Repeat 5 reps on each side.
Common Core Strengthening Questions
A majority of these movements may seem foreign to you at first, and that’s okay! That’s why we’ve made these printable core exercises for seniors with pictures included for added help.
These core exercises for seniors are not your traditional crunches, leg lifts, or bicycles for good reason — many of your traditional “core” exercises strictly work your rectus abdominis and oblique muscles… otherwise known as the show muscles.
To truly reduce lower back pain and improve function in your joints, it is important to focus on the core muscles that actually support your movements and improve everyday life. This printable routine of core exercises for seniors was specifically created with that thought in mind.
So, Should I Perform Crunches?
No! If you have lower back pain, the exercises above plus these stretches will help.
How Often Should I Perform Core Exercises?
Your printable core exercise program for seniors handout with pictures will guide you through your first month of practicing these specific core exercises.
You’ll notice that you will practice 3 of these exercises per day, alternating exercises each day. This will allow practice of each exercise 3x throughout the week.
At the end of the week, you’ll have a day of rest; however, if you’re feeling a bit sore and need an additional day of rest during the week, that’s absolutely fine!
We split the exercises up in the program throughout the week to gently introduce you to this routine. If, however, you would rather practice all 6 exercises in one day, and practice that routine 2-3 days per week, that’s a perfectly fine variation!
After your first month of practicing these core exercises for seniors, if you’re noticing positive results, then keep it up! Long-term, to maintain those results, try to continue practice of each exercise at least 2x per week, if you can’t fit 3x in.
Also keep in mind, core exercises for seniors are most effective when combined with consistent whole-body strength training and cardio options. So, you can absolutely include the practice of other exercises with these core exercises for seniors into your workout routine.
If you have any other questions regarding either the specific muscles specified or movements address, feel free to drop a comment below!
Otherwise, print out these core exercises with pictures to keep on hand whenever you need a core workout.
I really like the Arthritis exercises. Would you have a DVD to purchase for these exercises. And cost? Thank you.
Hi Patricia! For these exercises, we don't but I am working on a video that will be posted here when it's ready. Stay tuned 🙂