When it comes to core workouts for individuals over the age of 50, it's important to focus on exercises that improve core strength, stability, and flexibility while minimizing the risk of injury. Here are some effective core exercises that are suitable for you.
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Planks are excellent for engaging the entire core, including the abs, back, and hips. Start with a basic forearm plank, holding the position for 40 seconds to a minute and gradually increase the duration as you build strength.
Lying on your stomach, place your arms shoulder-width apart and your palms face down. Ensure your feet are also spaced approximately shoulder-width apart. Next, assume the plank position by supporting your upper body on your forearms and positioning your feet on your toes. Your elbows, forearms and palms should remain flat on the floor. Keep your chin tucked in close to your chest and avoid hunching your shoulders. Engage your core, pulling your belly button towards your spine. Keep your bottom tucked in and squeeze the glutes, quads, hamstrings, stomach and arms. Do 3 sets holding for 40 seconds each time. Take a 20 second rest period between sets.
2. BIRD DOGS
This exercise helps strengthen the core and improves balance. Begin on all fours, then extend one arm forward while simultaneously extending the opposite leg backward. Hold for a few seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side. Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.
Begin this exercise on your hands and knees - they must be positioned hip-width apart. Lift one hand and point the arm out straight in front of you. Then, extend the opposite leg behind you straight back. Keep your hips squared to the ground as you keep your weight centered. Keep your abs engaged throughout the entire motion. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat each side 10 times. If this is challenging at first, extend your arm and leg separately until you are stronger.
3. GLUTE BRIDGE
The muscles that are strengthened are the hamstrings, glutes, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. The benefits are that it tightens stomach, reduces risk of hamstring injury, improves posture, bone density, lower back pain and flexibility.
Lying on your back, place your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your heels flat on the floor. Ensure your arms are comfortably at your sides with your hands palm-down on the floor. Then slowly raise your hips by squeezing your butt muscles (glutes). Your head and shoulders should remain flat on the floor, don’t strain forwards with your neck. Remember to keep your core muscles tight (engaged) then return to the original position. Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions each, and make sure to rest for 30 seconds between sets.
4. ANKLE TAPS
The benefits are that it will enhance ab strength and improve your core. Don't forget to tuck in the chin, make sure to engage your obliques when moving, and breath.
Lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and arms at your sides. Keeping your shoulders back and the spine neutral, raise your upper back and head off the floor. Then using your obliques, bend and reach with your left hand to touch the heel of your left foot. This motion should be slow and controlled. Return to your starting position and then repeat the movement on the right side. Do 15 repetitions per side (30 in total), and do 3 sets of these, resting for 20 seconds between the sets.
The benefits to doing crunches are that it builds strong core muscles, improves posture, builds muscle mass, weight loss & reduces belly fat. What to avoid: straining forward with the head to compensate for the movement, forgetting to breathe, using momentum rather than muscle
Lie on the floor with your hands placed behind your head, keeping your elbows wide. Place your feet flat on the floor, keeping your heels down and your knees bent. First, ensure your chin is tucked towards your chest. Then, engage your core, slowly lift your shoulders off the floor and crunch forwards towards your knees. Return to your original position and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, resting 20 seconds between sets. Avoid using your hands to pull your head forwards; the work required to lift you up and forwards needs to be done by your core (muscles in your mid-section).
6. HOLLOW MAN HOLD
Benefits: reduces lower back pain, supports spine & gluteal muscles. What to avoid: space between your back and floor means the core is not engaged, forgetting to breathe while holding the position.
Place a thick towel or exercise mat on the floor to cushion your hips and spine while doing this exercise. Next, lie flat on your back, and lift your legs at a 45-degree angle. Hold for 40 seconds then rest for 20 seconds. Keep your arms at your sides and tuck your chin into your chest. While doing this, keep your back as flat as you can on the mat. Then, squeezing your stomach, glutes and quads, inhale deeply and engage your diaphragm. Finally, pull your shoulders downwards and away from your ears, avoiding a hunching position while holding this position. Do 3 sets.
Listen to your body, start with a comfortable intensity, and gradually increase the difficulty as you become stronger and more confident. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or concerns.