Having strong abs is particularly essential as you age. Each of the major muscles in your abdomen -- the rectus abdominus, the obliques and the transversus -- work to support your torso and help you move with ease. If you are a senior, performing low-impact ab exercises at least every other day for five to 10 minutes will improve your fitness level and help keep you strong well into your advanced years.
Yoga involves poses that range from easy to very advanced. Bridge pose is a simple, low-impact exercise that will strengthen the long, strappy rectus abdominus muscle that runs vertically through your abdomen while also strengthening your buttocks and thigh muscles. Take off your shoes and socks and lie on your back on a rug or exercise mat with your arms by your sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet hip-width apart about a foot away from your buttocks. As you exhale, lift your hips toward the ceiling. Breathe naturally as you maintain the lift for up to 30 seconds. Bridge will become easier the more you practice it. When you feel ready, hold the pose longer.
Double-Leg Abdominal Press
The double-leg abdominal press is a low-impact alternative to crunches, which could strain your neck. Stay on your back on the floor after Bridge pose and again bend your knees. Then, lift your feet off the floor until your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Place the heels of your hands against your knees. Push your knees away with your hands, while at the same time contracting your abs and pulling your knees toward you. The temptation while doing what is essentially an isometric exercise is to hold your breath, but make a concerted effort to breathe naturally as you perform this exercise for 10 to 15 seconds so as not to raise your blood pressure.
If you have trouble getting down to the floor, you can use a chair to perform an ab exercise for the obliques. These are the muscles that run down either side of your abdomen and help you twist from side to side. When they are strong, you reduce the risk of straining your lower back when twisting. Sit up with a straight back on a hard chair with your feet planted flat on the floor. Drape your left arm down the back of the chair and grasp the back of the chair with your left hand. Exhale and contract your abs as you turn your upper torso very slowly to the right. Breath normally for a few seconds and then return to center. Drape your right arm down the back of the chair and grasp the back of the chair with your right hand. Twist all the way to the left. You can continue slowly twisting from side-to-side for up to one minute.
Strengthen the abdominal muscle in your lower belly with single leg lifts. Lie on your back on a rug or an exercise mat and slide your hands -- palms down -- under your lower back to protect it from injury. While contracting your abs, lift one leg slowly until it is perpendicular to the floor and then lower it just as slowly. If you cannot lift your leg until it is perpendicular to the floor, lift it as high as you can. Repeat on the other side. Perform five on each leg to begin with and work your way up to 10 per leg over time. When your abs have become stronger, you can lift both legs at the same time.
Check with your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while or have any chronic health issues.
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