Having a strong core is essential for everyday fitness. The core is the body’s stabilizer. We use our core muscles all the time doing everyday things like: walking, getting out of the car and doing laundry. Keeping these muscles strong will allow you to bend and twist all the while protecting your back from injury. For many people with lung disease, they find it difficult to perform sit-ups and crunches. These types of exercises compresses the abdominal area which in turn pushes up on the lungs and causes breathlessness. Many doctors don’t recommend crunches for seniors due to the unnecessary pressure it puts on the spine in order to do these exercises. I’m here to tell you that there are way to strengthen the core (back and abdominals) without crunches or having to lay on the floor with fear that you can’t get up easily.
Here are 5 exercises you can do standing or sitting to strengthen your core.
1. Seated Roll-up - Sit on the edge of you chair with feet flat on the ground and hands in front of you. Tighten abdominals. Sit up tall and inhale deeply. Lean back slowly and almost touch the back of the chair with your shoulders, then use your ab muscles to pull you back to upright slowly exhaling as you go. Complete 10 -12 roll-ups. *Once you feel stronger with this exercise and you want a challenge you can try crossing your arms over your chest or putting your hands behind your head.
2. Sitting toe touches– Sitting on the front of you chair and bend your knees with feet flat on the floor. Inhale deeply. Exhale as you use the abdominals to pull each leg up slowly tapping each foot on the ground as you lower the leg back down. Alternate legs 10-12 times each.
3. Side lateral crunch – I like to refer to this as the “I’m a little teapot exercise.” Hold a hand weight in your right hand. Stand with your feet just a bit wider than shoulder width. Inhale deeply and Exhale as you bend to the right side sliding the weight down your thigh. Do not kick your hip out. Inhale again as you use your abdominal muscles to pull you back up, crunching the abs on the left side. Do 10-12 of these on the right side then switch the weight to the left hand and do the exercise on the other side. Only work with the range of motion that is comfortable on your spine.
4. Weighted rotations - Hold the hand weight with both hands in front of you with your elbows by your sides. Twist at your waist slowly from side to side breathing in and out as you move. Again only use the range of motion that is comfortable for your spine.
5. Dumbbell Chop- Stand with feet just a bit wider than shoulder width. Knees are slightly bent. Hold a hand weight tightly with both hands. Inhale and raise it above your right shoulder then exhale slowly and with control swing it slowly down by left side (as if you were to be chopping wood). Then inhale again as you raise it back up over your right shoulder. Complete 10-12 repetitions then switch to opposite side.
*** As with any exercise routine. It is advisable that you check with your doctor before starting something new.