3 Stomach Exercises for Seniors
At United Methodist Communities at The Shores, we haven’t met a senior who doesn’t love to eat! Which is great, because the ability to enjoy our food is one of life’s greatest gifts. It’s equally important to ensure our residents are just as passionate about their fitness, especially since we tend to accumulate more weight in our bellies as we age. Our core is also largely responsible for our sense of balance, which is crucial to maintain in order to stay active as we age. In honor of National Fitness Day (on the 6th), we’d like to share some great stomach exercises for older adults.
Chair planks are a great way to target deep core muscles without any vigorous activity. First, make sure you have a sturdy chair, preferably with the back of the chair against a wall for stability. Stand facing the chair, and place the palms of your hands on the two outer edges of the chair closest to you. Walk your feet back until your head, shoulders, hips, and feet make a long line. Adjust as needed so you can comfortably hold the position. You want your elbows unlocked and in line with your shoulders. Keep your gaze forward, and focus on drawing your belly button to your spine. Hold the position for as long as you can and increase the amount of time. Start at 30 seconds and increase as you are able, repeating 2- 5 times as you feel comfortable.
Take it to the next level. If this is getting too easy for you, you can move your planks to the floor, keeping the same alignment as the chair. You can also play around with picking up one foot an inch off the floor, holding as long as possible, and then switching to the other side.
Seated Knee Lifts
Regardless of your fitness level, knee lifts are progressive exercises that build up inner core strength by working your lower abdominal muscles and transverse abdominal muscles. For this exercise, you’ll need your sturdy chair again, with the back of the chair up against a wall. Start by sitting on the edge of your chair. You don’t want to be falling off the chair, but you do want to be close to the edge to perform the exercise properly. Sit up tall, shoulders down away from the ears, and with control engage your lower abdominals to lift one knee up (3 to 4 inches off the ground) and hold for five seconds. Lower your leg and repeat with the other leg. You can start by doing 6-8 on each leg and work up to 10-12 reps. If you feel comfortable, you can also increase the hold time on each leg.
Take it up a notch. If you’re feeling strong with this movement, you can try the same exercise in a standing position.
Oblique Side Bends
This exercise is ideal for increasing the stabilization of your core, and can even help assist with daily life movements! Your oblique muscles run up each side of your core and account for a large portion of your body’s supportive structure. For this exercise, (you guessed it) you’ll once again need your sturdy chair, with its back up against the wall. Start by sitting tall near the edge of the chair with your feet flat on the floor. Next, place your fingertips behind your ears with your elbows out wide. If you can’t lift your arms that high, place your hands in a prayer position at chest level with your elbows in a straight line. When you’re ready, exhale and bend to one side. Try not to lean forward, and keep that straight back – lengthening your spine. Hold this position for 2 seconds and then return to the center. Repeat this motion on the other side. Start with 6-8 reps on each side and work your way up to 10-12 reps on each side.
UMC at The Shores: A Healthy Lifestyle
Core strength is critical for posture, balance, injury prevention, and longevity. Keeping your core strong is one of the easiest things you can do to maintain your mobility and independent senior lifestyle. At UMC at The Shores, exercise classes are offered a few times a week, plus there is a fitness center to use as you please. We make it easy for you to stay active so you can continue to live an abundant life.