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Abdominal chair exercises reduce the impact on your spine.
According to the American Council on Exercise, it's preferable for older people to perform exercises in a weight-bearing, or standing, position as much as possible. However, some seniors may have limited mobility and balance, compromised bone strength and structure, or limited endurance. Using a chair for abdominal exercises can reduce the load on your spine and, sometimes, the overall demand of each exercise so you can still target your core muscles in a safe and supported position. The following low-impact abdominal workout can be completed two to three days per week. Each of the chair exercises should be performed for 12 to 15 repetitions, for two to three sets. Try the exercises with your body weight first before using dumbbells. If you experience low back or other discomfort during or after performing these exercises, speak with your health care provider.
Twist Your Tube
Sit upright in your chair and wrap your fingers around a piece of exercise tubing with your hands placed shoulder-width apart. Reach your arms out in front of you, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Draw your navel in toward your spine and rotate your torso to the left. Twist your torso as far as you can while keeping your abdominal muscles contracted. Slowly return to the middle and alternate twisting your torso to the right. Treat your arms as an extension of your torso and your core muscles as a sponge being wrung out.
Tip Like a Tea Pot
Lengthen your spine and cross your arms in front of your body or place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides. Gently pull your belly muscles in and tilt your torso to the right, lowering your rib cage toward your right hip. Use your abdominal muscles to pull your torso back to the starting position. Repeat your next repetition to the left and continue alternating directions. To increase the difficultly, hold dumbbells in your hands with your arms down by your sides.
Chop Some Wood
Hold one or two dumbbells in front of your right shoulder. This exercise becomes more challenging as you lengthen your arms away from your body. Sitting up tall, draw your abdominal muscles in and rotate your torso down and across. Aim to move the right side of your rib cage toward your left hip. Return slowly back to the starting position while maintaining control of your torso muscles. Repeat the whole set with your right side, or alternate repetitions by rotating the left side of your rib cage toward your right hip.
Take a Bow
The basic seated crunch is similar to the wood chop, but without the rotational movement. Start in the same position as the tea pot exercise. Brace your stomach muscles and fold your torso downward, around your belly button. Both sides of your rib cage will reach toward your hips. Keeping your belly muscles engaged, slowly extend your spine back to the starting position. You can increase the challenge of this exercise by making your arms longer or by holding dumbbells in your hands.