Tummy Exercises for the Elderly
As people age, they may gain weight, especially around the midsection. According to the Mayo Clinic, too much belly fat may contribute to a number of health problems, including high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Performing tummy exercises on a regular basis can also improve breathing, posture and balance, which is especially important for injury prevention and better overall health for senior citizens. It's never too late to start a fitness program to firm your tummy and lose belly fat. If you have been inactive for years, see your doctor for a complete physical and start slowly. Increase the time you spend exercising as your strength and endurance improves.
One of the easiest to perform and safest tummy exercises for the elderly is the abdominal squeeze. Stand up as straight as possible. Drop your shoulders an inch and push them back to straighten your spine. Allow your arms to hang relaxed at your side. Exhale and tighten up your stomach muscles. Squeeze your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Hold the squeeze for up to 10 seconds and then relax as you inhale. Try to do 10 abdominal squeezes every day.
The elderly can perform crunches to improve their abdominal strength, as long as there is no pain and a doctor approves. Lie on your back on the floor. Use an exercise mat or a folded blanket for comfort. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your hips with your palms down. Use your abdominal muscles to slowly lift your shoulders off the floor 1 inch to 2 inches. Hold the position for two seconds and then slowly lower your shoulders back to the floor using your abdominal muscles. Keep your chin pointed toward the ceiling to prevent neck strain. Do not bring your chin to your chest. Do 10 crunches every other day.
Pelvic tilt exercises not only help to reduce your tummy but also stabilize your lower spine and strengthen your abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your feet flat on the floor. Exhale and squeeze your abdominal muscles until your pelvis lifts up slightly. Hold the position for five seconds and then relax. Start with 10 to 12 repetitions. Increase the effectiveness of the pelvic tilt by lifting your right foot first, and then your left foot, off the floor as you squeeze your abdominal muscles.
Strengthen the abdominal muscles by doing floor extensions after you finish the pelvic tilt exercise. Turn over onto your stomach and place a pillow or two under your hips for support and comfort. Stretch your arms and legs straight. Lift your right arm and left leg as far as you can and hold the position for two seconds. Lower your right arm and left leg, and repeat with your left arm and right leg. Do 10 repetitions of the floor extension. Keep a straight line from your head to your buttock.
- WebMD: Fitness: Getting And Staying Active As You Grow Older
- Mayo Clinic: Belly Fat In Men: Why Weight Loss Matters
- AARP: Work Out In No Time
- Centers for Disease Control: Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults: More Exercises
- Prime of Life Fitness: Core Exercises for Baby Boomers: What, No Crunches?
- Centers for Disease Control: Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults: Stage 3
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.