The Best Core Exercises for Older Adults

Strength and mobility are important no matter how many years you have under your belt. While sarcopenia, age-related muscle loss, is a natural part of aging, that doesn't mean you can't build strength at any age, according to Harvard Health.

These are some of the best core exercises for older adults to develop strength and mobility. (Image: RealPeopleGroup/E+/GettyImages)

Maintaining core strength is an important part of mobility and balance, which can prevent fall-related injury. Maillard Howell, owner of CrossFit Prospect Heights and founder of The Beta Way, a holistic wellness program wants you to introduce these five quick core exercises into your daily routine to stay strong at every age.

1. Weighted Marches

Weighted marches trigger your core, as you maintain balance with a weighted object. (Image: Maillard Howell)
  1. Start standing with your legs and feet hips distance apart. Hold a pair of light dumbbells, medicine ball or a filled gallon water jug.
  2. Drive your right knee up to about hip height, balancing your weight into your left leg.
  3. Bring your leg back down and switch legs.

As you perform this exercise, think about contracting your core to help balance the weight and maintain good posture. Start with a fairly light weight and graduate to kettlebells as you grow more comfortable, Howell says.

2. Bench Plank

Using a bench with your plank will make the exercise more manageable but still help strengthen your midsection. (Image: Maillard Howell)
  1. Place your hands on a bench, chair or other elevated surface.
  2. Bring your feet back and straighten your body to form a line with your head, hips and toes.
  3. Hold this plank for 30 seconds to a minute, maintaining good form.

Avoid hiking or sinking your hips — your body should stay straight. This is a low risk exercise with a high reward, says Howell. Planks will help you become stronger getting to and from the floor, which can be a challenge for older athletes.

3. Wall Sits

Wall sits are great for strengthening your knees and abdominal muscles. (Image: Maillard Howell)
  1. Begin with your back against the wall, legs at hip distance.
  2. Sink your hips and upper body down against the wall, bending at the knees until they come to 90 degrees.
  3. Keep your arms at your sides and avoid placing them on your knees for the added support.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, maintaining good form.

Wall sits are excellent for core and knee strength, according to Howell. You can start higher up on the wall and lower into the 90-degree 'chair' position as you become stronger over time. Only go as low as you're comfortable.

4. Flutter Kick Variations

Place a pillow under your lower back to modify this exercise. (Image: Maillard Howell)
  1. Lay down on the ground with either a mat or blanket beneath you for added softness.
  2. Place your arms at your sides for balance.
  3. Slowly raise your legs and flutter them at a maintainable pace.
  4. Flutter for 10-second intervals, resting for 15 seconds between intervals.
  5. Perform this exercise for 3 intervals.

As you grow more comfortable with this exercise, increase the 10-second intervals. If you feel pain in your lower back, add a pillow or padded mat to help maintain the natural curve of your back, Howell says.

5. Unloaded Oblique Twists

To target your core, try and extend as far to your side as comfortable. (Image: Maillard Howell)
  1. Sit on the ground either on a mat or cushion for added softness. Your knees should be bent, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Contracting your core and arms out, twist to your right side.
  3. Tap the ground with both hands before lifting your arms back out and returning to center.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Repeat for 12 to 16 taps total.

"Really focus on reaching as far to the side as you can and touching the ground with both hands," says Howell.

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