Fear of losing independence in old age worries people most, according to a recent survey of Abbott. While the prevailing ideas about aging include physical and mental losses to some extent, mobility (a.k.a. independence) does not have to be the ability you part with.
The key to preserving mobility in old age? You have got to move!
Todd Wintersteen from Right at Home met with Dr. Kris Berg, a retired professor of Health Physical Education and Recreation at University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). They discussed aging and exercise, as well as strategies to strengthen the body.
Muscles That Are Vital To Your Independence
The strength of your core and glutes (a.k.a. butt muscles) are crucial to your functional mobility. Core muscles are responsible for regulating the position of your spine and pelvis. Gluteal muscles help you stabilize and put driving power into your movements.
Dr. Berg recommends that beginners work with exercise professionals on the fundamentals. He stressed that proper body alignment would be better achieved with the help of trained eyes.
Beginners will likely find that working out is a mindful experience, as drills of proper movement patterns help people to “feel what is right,” according to Dr. Berg. When sensory awareness for good postures is instilled, the muscle memory will lower risks of injury and falls.
5 Core And Glutes Exercises For Beginners
- The Trunk Lift puts three large muscles - the abdominis, external and internal obliques, and the spinal erectors - at work. This movement of trunk flexion can strengthen the front abdominal wall.
- Lie face-up on the floor.
- Keep one leg straight and the other knee bent.
- Hold your hands behind your lower back.
- Raise your head and shoulders off the floor and hold the position nice and symmetrically, then go back down when you are fatigued.
- Rest for a couple seconds and then do it again.
- Side Bridge works the obliques (a.k.a. the “outer abs”), all the muscles on the lower back, and some large spinal muscles. It helps to stabilize your spine, but the key is to keep your body straight as a board.
- Lie on your side.
- Put forearm on the floor under your shoulder, perpendicular to your body. Keep your weight on the forearm and the elbow. Hold your head in a neutral position.
- Raise your hips up. Come down when you can no longer hold the position.
- Rest for a few seconds then repeat on the other side.
- The Clamshell targets the glutes, strengthening the key muscles of the buttocks and thighs. It helps to create balance in the legs, which is essential to fall prevention. Lie on your side with the knees bent at 45 degrees, and stack your legs on top of each other.
- Put your forearm on the floor under your shoulder, perpendicular to your body.
- Lift the knee up by 45 to 50 degrees, like opening a clamshell.
- Close your legs and repeat the movement 10 to 15 times.
- Hip Bridge strengthens the buttocks and improves core stability. It’s a step up from the clamshell. Lie face-up on the floor with the knees bent at 45 degrees.
- Keep your hands by your side and elevate the hips.
- Come down after a few seconds.
- Partial Squats engage the glutes, the quads, the hamstrings and even the core, which are essential to balance and coordination. Over time, squats also can increase bone mineral density, making your bones more resistant to fracture. Hold on to a good, firm chair for support.
- Stand with your feet spread shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your spine straight. Bend your knees as much as you can (remember to squeeze the glutes) and move your hips back, then return to the standing position.
- Repeat 4 or 5 times.
As you continue to keep the spine in a neutral position during the routine, you learn to engage the lower back muscles without putting pressure on your spinal discs. In the long run, this workout helps to prevent lower back pain.
Where Exercise Training Meets The Needs
The five core and glutes exercises are effective in training the brain to control the “stand-up muscles.” The squat in particular is good for seniors who have a hard time getting in and out of the chairs, as it enhances motor control.
Getting out of a chair will not be a challenge if you:
- Put the hands on the armrests (make sure that the chair is anchored to the ground).
- Slide to the front half of the chair.
- Keep your back straight, rock forward, and then push yourself up.
This is how you return to the standing position after completing a squat.
You can also avoid wrenching your back for lifting a heavy bag if you employ the squat motions. “You want to use the largest muscles to do the task to protect the spine,” Dr. Berg explains. “Keep the spine in a straight, neutral position. Bend the knees down and pick up the sack (of groceries). Keeping the load close to your body makes it easier to carry. It’s like a weightlifter keeping the bar close to the body.”