Crunches can be hard on your back, but other ab exercises can be gentle and effective.
You woke up one day and it happened -- you turned 50. Perhaps you've noticed your abs are starting to get a little flabby. Or maybe you've decided to get into shape for the first time. As you get older, core strength is especially important. Adding abdominal exercises to your routine can help keep you balanced, avoiding falls as you age. Strong abs can also help keep your back healthy, which is a common complaint among older men.
Avoid Injury, Warm Up First
The alternate arm-leg lift will warm up your spine and strengthen your core. To start, get on your hands and knees. Place your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. If you have achy knees, kneel on a folded blanket. For wrist issues, rest on your knuckles. On an inhale, lift your right arm forward, and stretch your left leg back. Flex your toes and work to keep your hips parallel. Gently draw your naval in toward your spine to protect your back. On an exhale, release your arm and leg back to starting position and repeat on the other side. Continue this movement for 30 seconds to one minute.
March For a Strong Core
Supine marches are easy on the back and help to improve core stability. To start, lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet hip distance apart. Place your hands under your pelvis, palms on the ground. Slowly and with control, lift your right foot a couple inches off the ground. Place the foot back on the ground and repeat on the other side. Continue marching in place for one to two minutes. See if you can keep your weight evenly distributed on your hands through the whole exercise.
Gentle But Tough
Although the modified plank with alternate knee extensions exercise is gentle on your back, it is a challenging exercise that will strengthen your core. To start, get on your knees and place your elbows and forearms on the ground directly under your shoulders. Work to create a straight line from your head to your knees. Now, lift and straighten your right leg, placing your toes on the ground. Bring your knee back to starting and repeat on the other side, for one repetition. Do two to four more reps, rest, then do one more set.
Avoid a Boat-Like Belly
Boat pose is a yoga exercise that strengthens your core through stabilization. If you have severe back or neck injuries, do not practice this pose. To start, sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Lift your hands in front of you at shoulder height, palms facing one another. Lean your torso back, without allowing your lower back to round, or rolling onto your sacrum. Hold this pose for three to five breaths and repeat two more times. If you are new to this exercise keep both feet on the ground. As you build up strength, you can try lifting one leg at a time, eventually lifting both legs off the ground.