Core Exercises For Seniors Stability & Health

core exercises for seniors stability health

Those of us who work in homecare know firsthand what a difference regular physical activity (aka “exercise”) makes in the lives of our clients. The clients who move their bodies more on a daily basis enjoy better moods, remain more engaged with the world around them, are less likely to fall, and sleep better at night. Who doesn’t want that? 

Plus, exercise is necessary to manage existing health conditions and weight goals. 

Add Core Exercises To The Senior Movement Routine 

We recently posted a blog about Safe Summertime Exercises that help seniors get the daily movement they need, even when it’s hot outside. Today, we want to focus on exercises that strengthen the core muscles. 

Core strengthening exercises have a range of benefits. In addition to providing cardio and strength building, core muscles support healthy digestion, strengthen the pelvic floor -reducing or eliminating incontinence, improve balance, and make it easier for seniors to do daily tasks that keep them feeling productive

What Are Core Muscles & What Do They Do? 

Many people equate “core muscles” with “abdominals.” While your abdominal (stomach) muscles are part of the core group, the term refers to a much wider and more complex group of muscles. In addition to abdominal muscles, the core group includes all of the muscles that support and stabilize the spine and the muscles that make up the pelvic floor.  

In other words, it’s a whole lotta different muscles, and they all do essential jobs. When these muscles get weak, things go amock, such as poor posture, less overall strength, pain in the back, shoulders, and neck, and lack of balance. Flacid core muscles also put seniors at risk for incontinence (or make existing incontinence worse) and prevent efficient digestion and waste elimination. 

We feel core exercises for seniors are a must! However, as with any new activity, always speak to your loved one’s physician before adding or changing their exercise routine. 

5 Examples Of Core Exercises 

Here are five examples of core exercises you can do with seniors on a daily or weekly basis. Make any or all of these a regular part of the exercise rotation. 

Bridge pose 

Anyone can do a bridge pose because the beginning posture requires lying flat on your back on the ground (using a yoga mat, sleeping pad, or folded blanket provides extra cushion). Once you are relaxed, bend the knees with the feet still flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Straighten your arms and lay palms flat on the ground. 

Then, slowly lift the hips up and off the ground, focusing on the lower back and stomach muscles, if possible, rather than using the thighs. Make sure the thighs remain parallel (no angling of the bend knees to either side) and hold the hips as high and you comfortably can for a few seconds. Then lower your bum back to the ground.  

Click Here to see what it looks like. Note that the woman in that post has her hands clasped underneath her. That is an advanced version. You can work towards that but, to start, just keep your hands along your sides for better stability, comfort, and balance. 

For some seniors, this is immediately available, and the hips will get a good way off the ground. For others, an inch or two may be all they can do. That’s just fine. Over time, the core will get increasingly stronger, and those hips will rise higher and higher. 

Senior yoga (or pilates) classes 

The bridge pose is a well-known yoga pose, so it makes sense that we segue into #2: Take a Senior Yoga (or Pilates) class. As with the bridge pose described above, a good senior yoga class meets you where you’re at. Trained instructors provide all types of supports and modifications so that even chair-bound, bed-bound, or home-bound adults can participate.  

Read our post, The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors, to learn more about it. There, we share examples as well as video links to get you started. 

Standing or sitting side bends 

This one feels great any time of the morning, afternoon, or evening. Standing and sitting side bends help to get rid of the tension from too much sedentary or screen time and help seniors feel more alert and refreshed since it immediately increases circulation.  

Whether you opt to do the bends standing, seated, or both ways, always hold the tummy in a bit and keep the core muscles activated while bending and straightening for best results. Also, don’t forget to breathe! 

  • Standing: Stand with knees straight (but not locked) and with feet hip-width apart. Raise the arms overhead and clasp hands with fingers interlaced. Make sure the shoulders are lowered, and the chin is parallel to the ground. Slowly and gently bend to the side while keeping the spine facing forwards (bend but don’t twist). Go as far as it is comfortable and hold the stretch for a moment if it feels good to do so. Then slowly raise back to the center position.  
  • Switch the interlace of the fingers (so the other thumb is on top) for an extra brain boost, and then slowly repeat the side bend to the opposite side. Try to do at least five of these repetitions to start, then add more as you like until you reach 10 cycles. 
  • Sitting. Sit cross-legged if you can. If not, feel free to place pillows on each side of your knees so they’re supported or sit with your legs straight out in front of you. This exercise can also be done in a chair, preferably one without arms (just make sure to provide fall protection if needed). Extend the arms up and clasp hands together with interlaced fingers, just as you would if you were standing, and do the bends as written above. 

Enroll in a water exercise class 

Like yoga, water exercises constantly make the Top 3 list of best senior exercises. The water is very supportive of aching joints or muscles that are out of shape. Also, it provides resistance for muscle strengthening and buoyancy to prevent falls or injuries. Finally, the continual process of remaining afloat and upright in the water constantly utilizes contractions in core muscles. 

So, even if a particular exercise isn’t specific to core muscles, your movements to perform any exercise in the water also support core tone and strength. If you already head to the pool or an exercise class regularly, or you have a hot tub, pool, or jacuzzi at home, begin adding some of these Swim Workouts That Target Your Belly and focus on the core. 

Do a senior core workout at home 

Just as there are videos available for yoga, exercise, dancercise, pilates, and everything else under the sun, high-quality exercise videos focus on senior-friendly core routines that take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.  

Check out: 

Wish your senior loved one had a companion to make daily activities and exercises more fun? Consider hiring a companion through a licensed senior care agency. Contact us at HomeAide Home Care to learn more about how we can support and care for your favorite senior. 

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