Core Exercises for Seniors

If you're a senior citizen attempting to exercise after a long time, it is important to understand core exercises to maintain your physical fitness, before you perform exercises that can prove harmful.
Allow me to share a fact which may change your outlook about your fitness level. It is believed that one starts losing 1% of muscle mass every year from age of 30. This fact may not be perfectly true, still, it is warning for people over certain age. If you are a person who believes in the saying, "Where there's smoke there's fire", it won't be difficult for you to consider the fact gravely and commit yourself to work out regularly. Of course, I don't mean that those in the age group of 30-45 should take up only core exercises. Emphasis is on underlining the fact that aging is ongoing process and it starts much earlier than we tend to accept.

Basic Core Building Exercises

When we refer to core muscles it means the muscles of the abdomen, back, lower back and pelvis. Due to the differences in the physiology, recommended exercises for men and women are different. The stretches for seniors given below helps, both, male and females to strengthen their back and makes the movements during the course of the day painless.

Core Building for Seniors

You can do these exercises at home if you are a busy person and don't have enough time to go to a gym. These activities can be performed with ease and focuses the efforts on the core muscles. If you are a senior citizen of much advanced age, then consulting a doctor is highly important before starting the exercises presented below, or any other exercises program that you have come across.

Limb Extension
To perform this exercise, lie on your stomach. The core muscles are stretched by extending arms and legs. To start with, raise your right arm and left leg simultaneously. Breath slowly and hold the posture at least for a count of 6. Lower the limbs, relax and repeat the exercise for the left arm and right leg. If you cannot hold the posture for the time period specified, don't push yourself and it is better to relax. Gradually, by continuing to do this exercise, you will be able to last. To get the full advantage of this exercise, it is important to repeat the exercise for each side for at least 6 times.

Simple Crunches
If you are thinking of doing crunches to exercise the abdominal muscles, then you will be well off by trying this exercise. To do it, lie on your back and bend your knees such that your feet are flat on the ground. Next step is to extend your hands towards the sky, if you are exercising in the outdoor or ceiling of the room. Tighten the abdominal muscles and start to scissor your hands. Take a breath, lower your hands and knees after 30 seconds of this activity. If you are up to it, continue to do the next step of this exercise. Lift your knees so that they are at an angle of 90 degrees with the floor. Raise your hands in the air and scissor them for at least 30 seconds.

Raise Your Knees
This is performed to stretch the core muscles of the lower back. To do it, lie on your back and raise your knees to bring them closer to the chest. You can hold them with hand and pull them even closer to your chest to stretch the muscles even farther. Hold this posture for a count of six, if you can, then relax and stretch your legs on the floor. If you are feeling up to it then repeating this exercise is beneficial. This an exercise that shouldn't be hurried through, as it works muscles of lower back, arm and compresses abdominal muscles. Trying to go beyond your limits and doing it faster, than you should, may cause a muscle to spasm.

The Snake Posture
This is a Yoga exercise that is beneficial to people of all ages. It helps to work on the muscles in the back and the pelvis area and is especially useful for seniors who often complain of stiffness in these body parts. Your goal while doing this exercise is to assume a posture that a snake adopts when it is holding its head high in the air. Lie on your stomach and place your hands right beneath your shoulder. Lift your upper body by extending your arms fully. Using hands to support its weight, arch the back as far as possible. You may be able to feel the muscles in the abdominal and those in front of your hip region stretch. Move your head back slightly to assume as perfect a posture as this exercise demands, but not so far as to strain your neck muscles. Hold the posture for a couple of seconds and slowly, very slowly, lower the head first and relax the back steadily to remove the tension in it. Bend your elbows to lower your upper body to the floor and relax for couple of seconds or minutes. Repeat the exercise two to three times, depending on your comfort level, to gain its full benefits.

Every year, thousands of seniors visits doctors to treat fractures they have suffered in an accident, due to loss of balance. Most prominent among these are the hip bone fractures suffered because of a fall in the bathroom. The core strengthening exercises help you, by improving your posture and balance especially, by strengthening your lower back muscles. Along with these core strengthening exercises for seniors, one can take up swimming, bicycling and the most easiest of all the exercises i.e walking to stay fit.
By Shrinivas Kanade
Last Updated: 9/27/2011
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