A strong core can protect the spine, aiding your ability to bend, rotate, carry, sit down, and stand back up. As you get older, core strength can weaken and increase your risk of falls, or inhibit your ability to carry out everyday tasks. Fortunately, there are many exercises that can help you maintain core strength and build balance as you age.
If you speak to personal trainers that specialize in healthy aging, they will tell you to observe the spine. There is no larger supportive structure that separates the rib cage and pelvis. The spine connects those two areas of the body, stabilizing the space between the upper and lower extremities. When you focus on keeping core muscles strong, you can have better mobility, balance, and strength as you get older.
Strengthening Your Core Over 50
For people over 50, the best exercises for core strength involve rotation and anti-rotation. Twisting involves rotating your body while mindfully engaging your core for support. Anti-rotation is when you use your core to stabilize you, resisting the pull of a band, or something similar. Fitting these two types of core exercises into your workouts can help enhance core strength. The main thing is consistency, so aim to engage in the following core-strengthening exercises about three times per week.
If you have shoulder issues and cannot extend your arms overhead in a dead bug position, this exercise is an excellent alternative. You can focus on tapping your feet, more so than worrying about shoulder pain. Start on your back with your legs in a tabletop position, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Reach your arms up toward the ceiling and brace your core. Keep your right knee bent while lowering your right heel to tap the ground. Make sure your back remains on the ground and that core is tight. Bring your right knee back to the starting position and then repeat with the left leg. Complete three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
This may be the most accessible core exercise for beginners over 50. It’s very similar to the above heel tap exercise, but it involves more arm movement. If you have stiff shoulders, avoid this exercise and do heel taps instead. Start on your back with your legs in a tabletop position, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Reach your arms toward the ceiling and brace your core. Extend your right leg out in front of you and extend your right arm overhead. Keep your left hand on your left knee and anchor your lower back into the ground. Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other leg. Complete three sets of 10 sets on each leg.
Your core isn’t just your abs, but a lot of people think that doing ab workouts is the only way to increase core strength. You also need to target your obliques to aid with functional twisting, bending, and more. To begin the exercise, stand up straight with your feet hip-distance apart. Keep your torso straight and bend to your right side, hinging at the waist. Return to the center and then repeat on the left side. Continue alternating right to left until you complete 10 reps per side. Make sure to complete three sets of 10 reps per side.
Side Plank Twist
Staying in the realm of oblique exercises, the side plank twist is highly beneficial to improving core strength and balance. You will stagger your feet in this variation for more support during the exercise. Lie on your right side with your left up stacked over your right hip. Bring your left foot in front of your body for better stabilization. Stack your right shoulder over your right elbow, planting your forearm flat on the floor. Engage your core and glutes to lift your hip off the floor. Extend your left arm toward the ceiling and keep your hips square throughout the movement. Rotate your torso toward the floor, threading your left arm under your body. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Do 10 reps and then switch sides. Complete three sets of 10 reps per side.
This is an excellent anti-rotation core exercise, which targets your obliques as you pull on the resistance band. The exercise will be easier or more difficult depending on the resistance band you use. Loop a resistance band around a sturdy anchor and stand with your high side facing the anchor. Hold the band with both hands in front of you at chest level. Walk far enough away from the anchor to create tension in the band. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, bending your knees slightly. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, making sure to keep your arms extended in front of you throughout. Repeat on the left side and then complete two more times per side.
Most people don’t exercise their upper body enough as they age. Not only does the incline push-up strengthen your core, but it also increases shoulder, back, and chest strength. It’s also much easier than doing a regular push-up on flat ground. Face an exercise box, wall, or bench, placing your hands flat on the surface, keeping your shoulders over your wrists. Walk your feet back until your body is at a 45-degree angle. Tighten your glutes and quads and brace your core. Bend your elbows as you lower yourself as close to the box/bench as possible. Remember to keep your back straight and keep your elbows glued to your sides. Press your palms into the box, engage your chest, and push up to the starting position. Complete three sets of five reps.