A 20-Minute Seated Core Workout for Older Adults

older couple doing a seated core workout on chairs
This quick workout allows you to build up the muscles in your trunk.
Image Credit: AaronAmat/iStock/GettyImages

A strong core is crucial as you age. It's what allows you to stay independent and carry out daily tasks that involve carrying, bending, rotating and standing up. And training your core can start at any point.

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While standing core exercises are ideal for building core strength, seated exercises are an excellent alternative for older adults to train their core if they have mobility or balance issues, injuries or other health issues that may be keeping them off their feet.

"Our core is what stabilizes our entire body and connects our upper and lower limbs. Even seated, core strength exercises are beneficial," says Tina Tang, CPT, a New Jersey–based personal trainer who specializes in healthy aging.

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For example, older adults who recently had hip replacement surgery may not be comfortable standing for long periods of time just yet. Doing seated core exercises helps strengthen their trunk muscles to support their recovery.

"While recovering from hip replacement surgery, staying seated during a core workout allows someone to move without putting too much strain on their hip joints," Tang says.

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Whether you have a health condition that makes it difficult to move standing, or you're easing back into a regular workout routine, consider this 20-minute seated core workout.

Do 3 sets of 10 reps for each of the moves. Just like any strength workout, it's ideal to do this seated core workout at least twice a week — with the overall goal of training your core three times a week, Tang says.

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Check out more of our ​​20-minute workouts here​​ — we’ve got something for everyone.

1. Seated March

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Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core
  1. Sit up tall on an exercise box, bench or chair, stacking your ribs over your hips and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Keep your arms by your sides.
  2. Engage your core by inhaling, filling the sides of your ribcage with air.
  3. As you exhale, use your core to draw your right knee up toward your chest, forming a 90-degree angle with your leg.
  4. Slowly lower your right leg down to the ground and repeat on your left leg.
  5. Do 10 reps on each side, alternating legs.

2. Seated Chop

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Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core
  1. Sit up tall on an exercise box, bench or chair, stacking your ribs over your hips and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping your hips square and your feet flat on the floor, twist your torso to reach your hands to the right side of your body, extending your arms straight.
  3. Bring your hands up and across your body so that your arms travel in a diagonal line past your left shoulder.
  4. Reverse the motion to reach your hands back down across your body to return to the starting position.
  5. Do 10 reps, then switch sides.

Tip

If you would like to progress this move with some weight, hold a light medicine ball or dumbbell.

3. Seated Side Bend

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Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core
  1. Sit up tall on an exercise box, bench or chair, stacking your ribs over your hips and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping your torso straight, bend to your right side from your waist and lower as far as you can comfortably go.
  3. Return to the center. This is 1 rep.
  4. Bend sideways to the left, and continue to alternate.
  5. Do 10 reps on each side.

4. Seated Bicycle

JW Player placeholder image
Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core
  1. Sit up tall on an exercise box, bench or chair, stacking your ribs over your hips and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head.
  2. On an exhale, lift your right foot off the ground and twist your torso to draw your right knee in so that your left elbow touches it.
  3. Reverse the motion and return your right foot to the ground. This is 1 rep. Then, lift your left foot off the ground and twist your torso to draw your left knee in so that your right elbow touches it.
  4. Continue alternating sides and do 10 reps on each side.

Tip

Make sure to keep your back as straight as possible during this move. The goal is to use your core muscles to bring your knee to your elbow, not your elbow to your knee.

5. Seated Russian Twist

JW Player placeholder image
Sets 3
Reps 10
Region Core
  1. Sit on an exercise box, bench or chair with your feet on the ground, hip-width apart.
  2. Lean back slightly until you feel your abs engaged. Your torso should form a 45-degree angle with the chair.
  3. On an exhale, twist your torso to the right, then return to the center and repeat on the other side.
  4. Do 10 reps on each side.

Tip

If you would like to progress this move with some weight, hold a light medicine ball or dumbbell.

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