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Building Core Muscles Key to Longevity and Independence

Having strong core muscles are essential to a strong body and being able to get around pain free in the golden years. 

When we think about muscles, we tend to often focus on those that people easily flex to show off, such as the biceps or triceps. But our bodies are made up of an important region of muscles that is essential to proper function and healthy living. These muscles are referred to as the “core muscles.” The core muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic, are those that make up the abdomen, lower back and pelvis. They are essential to having good balance and stability. Building these muscles can have big impacts and long-lasting effects.

Getting and keeping them strong
Not having good core muscles can lead to problems, especially lower back pain. If someone has been in the hospital or has been inactive, even for several weeks, he or she can experience a deconditioning of the muscles, which equates to losing muscle mass each day. According to Diabetes in Control, building strong core muscles helps to build stronger bodies that are less prone to injuries, better for posture, and improve one’s balance.

"…there are plenty of easy to do chair exercises for core strengthening that they can engage in on a regular basis…"

While doing abdominal crunches are a well-known core muscle-building activity, it may not be all that practical for your parent to do. No need to worry, there are plenty of easy-to-do chair exercises for core strengthening that your parent can engage in on a regular basis.

Core strengthening chair exercises
The lower back muscles, being part of the core area, often give people a lot of pain if they are inactive, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. There are exercises that your parents can engage in that involve them lying on a bed or sitting in a chair. Both options can help strengthen the core muscle area. Here are a few suggestions on what to do:

     
  • Floor exercises, such as lying on the back with the knees bent, slowly lift one knee at a time to the chest. At the same time, press the lower back down to the floor and hold it there for five seconds. Then relax and repeat with the other knee. Do each knee 10 times. Try to do this daily, or at least four to five days per week.
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  • Sitting chair exercises that involve resistance will help to build core muscles. These exercises involve slow movements and are ideal for those seniors who have difficulty standing or have trouble with their balance. Using a light weight or resistance bands can help to make the exercises more effective.
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  • Chair support exercises. Your parents can also use a chair for support to do some low impact exercises that will strengthen core muscles. Essentially, they will do leg lift exercises while maintaining good posture and controlled movements. See this video from Family Doctor.org for a demonstration.

Doing core exercises is very important for the elderly. Strong core strength can help them avoid falling, hip fractures, lower back pain, and a host of other problems. Encourage your parents to engage in core strengthening exercises each day.



     
  • Strong core muscles are essential to good balance and stability. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
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  • Building strong core muscles helps to build stronger bodies that are less prone to injuries, better for posture, and improve one’s balance. (Source: Diabetes in Control)
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  • Inactivity can lead to lower back pain. (Source: American Academy of Family Physicians)