3 Ways Seniors Can Strengthen Their Core Muscles (much more than sit ups)

Most of the time when we think of a having a great core (stomach and back), it is associated with having “6 pack abs.” While having a “6 pack” is great, realistically many of us will never have as little body fat to be able to see perfectly sculpted stomach muscles. So does that mean we are all hopeless and training for core strength is a waste of time? Of course not: the number of people that have low back pain, poor posture or other physical issues indicates that we all need to strengthen our core muscles.. For seniors, core strengthening is particularly important because this is where you see many of them having posture issues in particular. In this short article I will share 3 ways seniors can focus on strengthening their core.

  1. Focus on Form- I know this sounds basic, but just having good technique when you exercise is good for your core. A big reason why people hurt their back is not only that they have a weak core, but they have often lifted a heavy object with bad form. For example, bending your knees to pick an object off the floor as opposed to using your back, will save you from injury and strengthen your core at the same time. Maintaining good form when you exercise forces you to engage your core in an upright body position which helps make it stronger to support your movement.
  2. Do exercises that require many muscle groups- The more you do exercises that use many muscle groups like squats or hand planks, they force your core to maintain good posture. This is evident when you see someone do a hand plank without engaging their core; often they either stick their hips way back or let their hips sag under them. For front squats in particular are almost impossible to do well if your core isn’t engaged because you will find it hard to maintain upright form. Since the core stabilizes movement in your body, the more muscles you use, it forces your core to work more. A great exercise is a hand plank, it strengthens much of your upper body and forces your core to stabilize (try for 30 seconds to 1 minute and can be done with a kitchen counter, chair or floor to increase difficulty); just make sure that the chair is against a wall for safety reasons
Counter Plank (easier option instead of Chair Plank ( Try this one first)
Chair Plank (Hold the sides of the chair if you have wrist issues)

3. Pay attention to your Nutrition- As great as exercise is for strengthen the core, good nutrition is often the missing link. Again while we might never get a 6 pack, having balanced nutrition will help reduce how much weight we carry around our midsection. Reducing our calories, drinking water instead of juice and just cutting a lot of junk food out of our diet will make a difference in reducing weight around our core.

While it is great when our stomach is flat, it is even more important when we don’t have back pain or poor posture. While we tend to focus on other muscles when exercising, it is our core which works to make all of our movement possible and efficient.

About the Author: Eric Daw is an Older Adult specialist and the Owner of Omni-Fitt. Omni-Fitt is committed to the health of seniors through fitness and all areas of wellness. Eric motivates and encourages seniors in Toronto to take responsibility through positive mentoring experiences. You can find Eric’s work at Omni-Fitt or follow him on Facebook

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