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Core Exercises For Older Adults of All Ability Levels

Adult core exercises

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


April 27, 2020

While maintaining a strong core is essential to your overall health and stability, explore the best core exercises for seniors no matter your level of mobility.

A recent study found that core strengthening for seniors actually produced positive results for their overall balance. 

Unfortunately, one in four American seniors get injured in a fall each year. Core exercises for seniors is a great place to start for improving balance and, thereby, preventing elderly falls.

The question is, “how do seniors with limited mobility or physical abilities strengthen their core?”

To help answer this question, we put together a list of core exercises for seniors of varying mobility and physical ability.

Read on to find out more about core exercises for seniors.


The Importance of Core Strength

In addition to improving your balance, there are a number of benefits to strengthening your core as you age.


Poor core strength can lead to a worsened posture.

Poor posture puts a great deal of strain on your back and sciatic region. Your core protects your spine, ribs, pelvis, and shoulder blades. Improving core strength can lessen this pain and decrease the need for over the counter pain medication – and its unwanted side effects. 


Good core strength can increase overall strength and improve range of motion. 

Many core exercises involve a set of repetitive motions that can loosen up your joints. You may also find that in doing these exercises, you’re engaging other muscles in the body that you normally do not. This means you’re working more than just your core!

Ultimately, improving your balance, strength, and range of motion can increase an older adult’s independence. Like working with a team of in-home caregivers, this can give you the freedom to age at home without worry. 

You may even find that a fitness routine will improve your mood and boost your energy, unlocking the door to all sorts of fun activities.


We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

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Good Core Exercises for Seniors

In order to make geriatric core exercises as accessible as possible, we have included variations for performing them standing, sitting, or on the floor.

PLEASE NOTE: When you first begin these exercises, please do so under the supervision of your in-home caregiver or professional fitness instructor. They can help you navigate these new techniques and ensure that you are safe in the process. 


Standing Exercises

One of the best standing, inner core muscle exercises that works both your abs and legs is the traditional squat. 



Stand with your feet hip-width apart and keep your back straight. Now, bend at the knees with your arms stretched out to the front holding onto a chair for balance.

If you can, try to bend your knees until your calves and thighs make a 90-degree angle. This may take some practice. Only go as far as you can without causing strain. Remember to engage your core muscles by squeezing in your navel to your spine; keeping a nice, straight back.

You can do squats in sets of 5, 10, or 15. 


Seated Exercises 

There are plenty of chair exercises for stomach muscles that will strengthen your core without coming into a standing or lying position. 


Knee Lifts

Sit with your back straight, your feet planted firmly on the ground, and your knees a few inches apart. Raise one foot at a time so that your knee comes straight up from its resting position.

Try to raise your foot three to ten inches off the ground. Repeat this exercise 5 to 15 times with one leg and 5 to 15 times with the other. As you raise your foot, concentrate on using your abdomen to take on some of that resistance.

Seated Side Bends

Assume the same starting position you did for your knee lifts. This time, hold one hand behind your head and extend the opposite arm straight out to the side. Lean to the side as though you are reaching for something with the outstretched hand. 

The goal is not to touch the floor, so don’t push yourself too far. Contract your abdominal muscles as you rise into an upright position once more. 

Repeat this exercise in one direction 5 to 15 times. Then, switch arms and do another set of 5, 10, or 15 while bending in the opposite direction. 


Floor Exercises

Floor exercises may require some assistance for seniors. If you have trouble rising from such a low position, consider sticking to the standing and seated exercises. Alternatively, consider trying modified versions of these exercises while resting comfortably in bed.

While lying down, you can perform an exercise that is similar to the knee lift we discussed earlier but is a bit more challenging. 

Leg Lifts

Lay flat on your back with your legs extended and your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your leg straight, lift one heel a few inches off the ground. Repeat this exercise 5, 10, or 15 times with each leg. 

Make sure that you are not straining your lower back in the process. One way to avoid this is to contract your abdominal muscles so that resistance is transferred to your core muscles.

Opposite Leg and Arm Lifts

For this next exercise, roll over to your stomach and extend your legs straight back and your arms straight forward. Lift your head and neck, but do not strain or overarch your neck. Now, lift your right hand 2 to 4 inches off the ground and lift your left foot the same amount, keeping both extended straight.

With this exercise, you may want to alternate. In other words, lift your right arm and left foot, hold it for a few seconds, then lower them to the ground. Then, lift your left arm and right foot and repeat this process until you do 5, 10, or 15 lifts on each side.

This last exercise is also a great hip strengthening exercise for seniors. We hope this list of dynamic core stability exercises for seniors helps you stay active this year.


Strengthen Your Core to Maintain Your Independence

Core exercises for seniors are great because they allow older adults to maintain their strength without causing pain or muscle damage. You can practice them at home for 20 minutes a day a few times a week and you’re sure to see results.

Strengthening the core for seniors is all about providing them with a stronger, more stable body. This gives seniors a better sense of independence when they can walk, lift, and move freely.

Another great way to maintain independence is to work with in-home physical therapists. At Commonwise Home Care, we can provide seniors with expert physical therapists who come to your home and walk you through appropriate exercises to main your strength and mobility.


We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

Learn More