Core strength is important for people of all ages, but it’s especially important for seniors. From sitting up in bed to walking upright, your core helps you carry out countless daily tasks.
A strong core can help prevent injuries as you age.
Where is Your Core?
When most people think of their core, they think of their abdominal muscles. This is partly true. The core does include the abdominals, but it also includes the pelvic muscles, back muscles and even your hip muscles.
Your core works to support your spine and skull, helping you stay balanced and stable. The core acts as a center of gravity and improves better performance of movement.
A healthy core can also keep back pain at bay while improving:
Why It’s Important to Maintain a Strong Core
There are many important reasons to maintain a strong core as you age. Maintaining a healthy mid-section will help you:
Maintain Balance and Stability to Prevent Injury
We all take good balance for granted in our youth, but as we age, we start finding it more difficult to stay on our feet. Our strength and reaction time diminishes as we age, which can make it more difficult to keep our balance when carrying out everyday tasks.
Walking stairs, navigating through poorly-lit places and walking on uneven sidewalks can be dangerous if your balance is off.
Your core acts as a stabilizer, keeping you in place when moving on bumpy terrain or moving in different directions. A strong core helps you maintain balance and stability as you age and reduces the risk of falling.
Falls are a major cause of injury and death in those over the age of 65.
Carry Out Daily Tasks
A strong core allows you to carry out everyday tasks with greater ease and more safely. Whether you’re bending over to pick up a package or just standing still while waiting in line, your core keeps you from falling over.
When your core is strong, these simple tasks become easier. Even basic daily activities, like showering, require you to have a strong core.
On-the-job tasks, like twisting, lifting and standing also rely on your core muscles. Even sitting at a desk or in a chair for hours will require you to use your core muscles.
If your core muscles are not strong, you may experience pain or stiffness in the back. You may even have trouble getting in and out of your favorite chair and have to replace it with a power lift chair.
Maintain a Healthy Back
Back pain is a serious issue for seniors – and millions of other adults around the world. But strengthening your core muscles can help prevent pain and back injuries.
With many seniors and adults leading more sedentary lives and working desk jobs, back pain is a common problem.
Engage in Sports and Leisure Activities
Many sports and leisure activities require strong core muscles, including golf, biking, tennis, rowing, kayaking, volleyball, baseball and swimming.
When your core is strong, you can continue enjoying these activities well into old age.
Maintain Good Posture
Poor posture is a growing problem, and it can lead to back pain as well as other health issues. But a strong core can help you maintain good posture to prevent these issues.
Most importantly, it reduces the wear and tear on your spine and allows you to breathe more deeply.
How to Exercise Your Core
Exercise is the best way to maintain a strong core. You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to work your core. Here are a few exercises to help your strength:
The bridge is a simple exercise that can be performed on the floor.
- Begin by laying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Pull your belly button in towards your spine, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
- Lift as high as you comfortably can, and hold for ten seconds.
- Slowly lower your spine.
- Repeat 20 times.
Just as its name suggests, the Wood Chop mimics the motion of chopping wood. The movement works nearly every muscle in your core and also challenges your balance skills. This exercise should only be performed by those who have healthy and strong balance.
This movement will be helpful in carrying out everyday tasks, like unloading the dishwasher.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Clasp your hands in front of you.
- Pull your arms up to the left side of your head.
- Squat down and “chop” your arms diagonally down towards the opposite side of the body. Make sure that your abs are engaged.
- Repeat by performing the “chopping” motion back up to the top.
- Repeat ten times, switching from the right to left side.
This simple floor exercise works your core, including your obliques and your stability muscles. While performing this exercise, it’s important to make sure that your lower back stays close to the floor for safety.
- Lay flat on the floor with your legs raised at a 90-degree angle.
- Raise your arms up towards the ceiling.
- Engage your abs, and lower your right foot toward the floor. Keep your knee bent.
- Return your legs to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.
- Perform 5-10 repetitions on each side.
Allie has worked in care facilities for the last 15 years providing mobility and health care to seniors of all skill levels. She is passionate about senior advocacy and is and loves to spend her free time in the outdoors.