Core Strength – Why it Matters More as You Age

February 25, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to become less active. The lockdowns left many of us with less opportunity for physical activity.

While a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health problems for people of all ages, older people should be especially mindful of decreased core strength. A loss of core strength can make keeping your balance more difficult, and increase your chance of falling.

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Pictured above: Here are Thelma and Narelle working together on specialised strength-training equipment in our purpose built gym at Mayflower Reservoir.

Falls are a leading cause of serious injury among older adults. An estimated one in three older Australians had a fall in the last year, leading to injuries that resulted in long hospital stays. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to learn more about core strength and how you can improve and maintain it.

What Is Core Strength?

The body’s core consists of the muscles concentrated in and around the torso. They play a crucial role in stabilising the back and pelvis, while also helping you move. We use our core to rise from a chair, lift, walk, and perform everyday tasks. However, routine activities can become more difficult and sometimes dangerous when these muscles weaken.

In addition to a lack of activity, other reasons older people might lose core muscle strength include:

  • Recent surgery or serious illness
  • Diet lacking in protein
  • Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia
  • Dehydration, especially on a long-term basis
  • Overconsumption of alcohol, known as alcoholic myopathy
  • Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease

How Older People Can Improve Core Strength

If you or a loved one needs to increase core strength, we have a few suggestions you might find helpful:

  • Pilates and yoga are healthy, low-impact methods of building core strength.  They are also known to be great for the mind, too. Consider trying chair pilates or yoga, which can be more friendly for older bodies, and can even be done at home.
  • Walking is another way to increase muscle mass, cardiovascular health and balance. You can begin with shorter distances and work up to a 30-minute walk most days of the week.
  • Light weight-training or working out with resistance bands is another option to explore.
  • Swimming is a brilliant exercise that improves overall strength and flexibility, and it’s kinder on joints than more demanding forms of physical activity due to its low impact nature.

As is true of any new exercise plans, seek the advice of your GP before getting started.

Consider the Support of Home Care

Suppose your loved one is trying to get back on their feet after an illness or needs encouragement to increase their activity. In that case, they might benefit from a companion.

You could consider enlisting the services of a home care provider that offers companion care. For example, the carer could accompany your loved one on walks or to a community-based pilates class. It might be just the right level of motivation and security they need to improve their core strength.

With over 60 years of experience, Mayflower home care is committed to compassion, excellence, integrity, and respect. Call our friendly home care team on 1300 522 273 to schedule a care-needs assessment for you or your loved one.