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12 Easy Lower Back Exercises For Seniors To Be Better

12 Easy Lower Back Exercises For Seniors To Be Better

Nearly 70 percent of older adults are estimated to suffer from back pain. Moreover, low back pain is the most common health problem among these older adults. Consequently, lower back exercises for seniors helps reduce intensity and/or occurrence of low back pain. Meanwhile, a recent study in England of 4,400 people over 70 reported that those with spinal pain were 13 percent more likely to die each year.

Lower Back Exercises for Seniors

Why do you get Lower Back Pain ?

The primary causes of lower back pain include the following:

  1. 1
    Lumbar strain
  2. 2
    Irritation of nerves
  3. 3
    Lumbar radiculopathy
  4. 4
    Bony encroachment
  5. 5
    Condition of bones and joints

Lumbar Strain

First and foremost, a lumbar strain is caused by microscopic tears in the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the lower back from stretching. Moreover, this common cause occurs most often in people in their 40s from overuse or improper use of the lower back.

Irritation of Nerves

Also, nerves of the lumbar spine can be irritated by mechanical pressure from bones, other tissues, diseases, or inflammation of the nerves by a viral infection like shingles.

Lumbar Radiculopathy

Next, lumbar radiculopathy is usually caused by a compression of the spinal nerve root. Consequently, there is pain in the leg rather than in the lumbar spine. Moreover, the compression or irritation can be due to one of many conditions, including lumbar disc herniation, spinal stenosis, osteophyte formation, spondylolithesis, forminal stenosis, or other degenerative disorders.

Bony Encroachment

Most noteworthy, bony encroachment cause narrowing of the portal through which the spinal nerve passes from the spinal column, out of the spinal canal to the body. And the most common reason for this encroachment is arthritis. Also, other reasons include spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis. Meanwhile, spondylolisthesis is a condition where one vertebra slips relative to another. And, spinal stenosis is a condition where bony spurs or other soft tissues in the spinal canal compress nerve roots or the spinal cord.

Condition of Bones and Joints

Finally, condition of bones and joints may be existing from birth (congenital), from wear and tear, from injury, and inflammation of the joints from arthritis.

Are there Lower Back Exercises for Seniors to Reduce Lumbar Pain ?

In fact, if you are looking for lower back exercises for seniors to get relief from lower back pain, the following are easy to do and many are even recommended by physical therapists.

  1. 1
    Partial crunches
  2. 2
    Knee to chest
  3. 3
    Hamstring stretches
  4. 4
    Wall sits
  5. 5
    Press up back extensions
  6. 6
    Bird dog
  7. 7
    Child’s Pose
  8. 8
    Pelvic tilts
  9. 9
    Glute bridges
  10. 10
    Lifting weights
  11. 11
    Aerobic exercises
  12. 12
    Pilates

Partial Crunches

This workout builds strength in the lower back and stomach muscles. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor and knees bent
  2. 2
    Cross your arms across the chest
  3. 3
    Next raise your shoulders from the floor while keeping your stomach muscles tight
  4. 4
    Hold for one second and then lower yourself back to the floor
  5. 5
    Do ten repetitions

Knee to Chest

  1. 1
    Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor and knees bent
  2. 2
    Next, pull up your right knee up to the chest while keeping the left foot flat on the floor
  3. 3
    Hold for 10 seconds
  4. 4
    Next, lower your right knee
  5. 5
    Repeat with the other leg
  6. 6
    Do five repetitions with each leg

Hamstring Stretches

This exercise increases strength and flexibility in the lower back. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    First, lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  2. 2
    Next, straighten the right knee while lifting the right foot towards the ceiling
  3. 3
    Next, hold the back of your knee and pull leg towards you. As you do this you will feel a pull on the back of your leg
  4. 4
    Hold for about 30 seconds, then return leg to its starting position
  5. 5
    Do five repetitions with each leg

Wall Sits

This routine exercises your legs, glutes, and lower back. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    First stand with your back against the wall
  2. 2
    Next, slide down the wall slowly and move your feet out until your upper legs form a right angle with the lower legs. Meanwhile keep your back against the wall.
  3. 3
    Hold this position for a count of ten
  4. 4
    Do ten repetitions

Press Up Back Extensions or Cobra Pose

This exercise lengthens the spine and makes your core and lower back flexible. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Lie on your stomach with bent elbows and hands flat on the floor underneath the shoulders. The legs are straight out.
  2. 2
    Next push with your hands to lift the shoulders off the floor
  3. 3
    Hold this position for 5 seconds and then go down to starting position
  4. 4
    If you find it hard to do, place your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders, with your forearms out in front of you with hands flat on the floor
  5. 5
    Push up with your elbows and hold position for 5 seconds
  6. 6
    Do ten repetitions

Bird Dog

This exercise works your abs to stabilize the lower back. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Start in a dog position, with hands flat of the floor and legs below the knees also on the floor
  2. 2
    Next, tightening your stomach muscles, lift and extend your right leg behind you until the leg is parallel to the floor
  3. 3
    Keep your neck straight and face the floor
  4. 4
    Hold for five seconds
  5. 5
    Repeat with the other leg
  6. 6
    Do ten repetitions with each leg

Child’s Pose

This exercise stretches muscles of the lower back, as well as the inner thighs. It also, promotes flexibility, stress relief and helps circulation to the muscles, joints, and disks of the back. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Start by sitting on the floor with your knees and feet
  2. 2
    Next, slowly bend forward until your head touches the floor
  3. 3
    Now, stretch your arms out beyond your head
  4. 4
    Hold position for 10 seconds
  5. 5
    Do five repetitions

Pelvic Tilts

This workout strengthens your pelvis. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  2. 2
    Next, imagine pulling your belly button to the floor. This will lift your hips.
  3. 3
    Hold for 10 seconds
  4. 4
    Do ten repetitions

Glute Bridges

This workout strengthens your pelvis. Follow these steps:

  1. 1
    Lie with your back on the floor, knees bent and heels on the floor
  2. 2
    Next, squeeze your glutes or your pelvic muscles to lift your hips until your shoulders, hips and knees form a straight line
  3. 3
    Hold this position for 10 seconds
  4. 4
    Slowly bring your back down on the floor
  5. 5
    Do ten repetitions

Lifting Weights

Lifting weights can strengthen your lower back muscles. However, ask a physical therapist or a trainer to show the right technique. Also, if you feel pain, talk to your medical professional.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercises like biking, swimming, and walking improve your cardiovascular system. However, don’t jog or run because their impact can make your lower back worse.

Pilates

Pilates can help low back pain. However, unless you are familiar with Pilates, learn how to do them correctly from an instructor at your local fitness club.

Are there Exercises to Skip Because they Harm the Lower Back ?

Most of all, as you look at other lower back exercises for seniors to use, avoid the following.

  1. 1
    Standing toe touches
  2. 2
    Sit ups
  3. 3
    Crunches
  4. 4
    Leg lifts
  5. 5
    High impact exercises such as step aerobics, running, basketball
  6. 6
    Lifting weights above your head
  7. 7
    Putting weight on your shoulders. For example, weighted squats put pressure on the spinal discs.
  8. 8
    Spinning bike or biking while leaning forward

Are there Home Remedies for Lower Back Pain ?

Meanwhile, lower back exercises for seniors to use can be augmented with home remedies, such as the ones listed below

  1. 1
    Using heat and cold
  2. 2
    Use pain-relief cream
  3. 3
    Use arnica
  4. 4
    Switch shoes
  5. 5
    Make changes to your work desk
  6. 6
    Get enough sleep
  7. 7
    Reduce stress

Using Heat and Cold

First, applying an ice pack, wrapped in a towel, directly to the back can reduce inflammation. Also, a heating pad can provide relief. However, to prevent burns, make sure the heating pad is not too hot.

Use Pain Relief Cream

Next, creams containing capsaicin may help relieve pain. In fact, a study found that capsaicin is helpful for treating osteoarthritis pain.

Also, pain-relief creams with menthol have a cooling effect to temporarily dull back pain.

Use Arnica

Arnica is a homeopathic remedy that can be applied directly to the skin to treat muscle pain.

Switch Shoes

In addition, some shoes can cause muscle strain in the back and legs. So, try switching shoes that fit well. Meanwhile, a foot specialist may be able to help you get the right kind of shoe.

Change your Work Desk

Improper posture, from slouching or straining, at a desk can cause back pain. For example, the computer screen should be at eye level with the chair at the correct height.

Get Enough Sleep

Disturbed sleep can make back pain worse. Also, insufficient sleep can reduce tolerance for pain. Moreover, guidelines recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

Reduce Stress

Finally, stress can trigger muscle tension in the back. So, take steps to reduce stress.

How Many Steps Do the Elderly Need to Be Healthy?

How Many Steps Do the Elderly Need to Be Healthy?

Most seniors are aware that being active is good for them. While being aware is a good thing, many seniors practice it by walking whenever they can. Moreover, many of them even measure their steps using their cell phones or wearable activity trackers. In addition, some of the more competitive minded, even aim for 10,000 (about five miles) to 15,000 steps rationalizing that the more the better for their health. However, is that really true?

steps

Latest Studies on Steps

In fact, a study published in the May 2019 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine provided answers. Especially relevant, this study, by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, looked at 17,000 elderly American women. Incidentally, these women were, on average, 72 years old.

Furthermore, for the purpose of the study, these women agreed to clip on wearable activity trackers during their waking hours. Indeed, these activity trackers counted steps and pace for seven days, while they went about their normal day-to-day activities.

Next, the researchers divided the women into four groups:

  1. 1
    First, group 1 consisted of women who averaged 2,700 steps daily
  2. 2
    Next, group 2 consisted of women who averaged 4,400 steps or about one to two miles daily
  3. 3
    Next, group 3 consisted of women who averaged 5,900 steps daily
  4. 4
    Finally, group 4 consisted of women who averaged 8,500 steps daily

Meanwhile, the study’s average follow-up period was a little over four years. Regrettably, in that period, 500 of the women died.

Findings

Most noteworthy, the study found after the follow-up period of about four years:

  1. 1
    First, that women who averaged 4,400 steps daily reduced their risk of dying by 41 percent compared to women who averaged 2,700 steps daily
  2. 2
    Next, that women who averaged 5,900 steps daily reduced their risk of dying by 46 percent compared to women who averaged 2,700 steps daily
  3. 3
    Next, women who averaged 8,500 steps daily reduced their risk of dying by 58 percent compared to women who averaged 2,700 daily steps
  4. 4
    Finally, the risk of dying appeared to level off at around 7,500 steps daily. Consequently, doing more steps daily had minimal effect on the risk of dying.

Most noteworthy, researchers found that the pace of walking didn’t make a measurable difference on the risk of dying. Consequently, the women got the same benefits by walking slowly as by walking fast.

Observational Study

Especially relevant, the study was observational. Indeed, the study provided results based on an observational association between the daily step count and risk of dying.

Furthermore, because the study was observational, the study could not provide causality. For example, women could have walked more because they were already healthier. In fact, the study did not determine how or why walking lowered the risk of dying. On the other hand, many other studies show that physical activity:

  1. 1
    First lowers blood pressure
  2. 2
    Next improves blood sugar processing
  3. 3
    Also improves cholesterol levels
  4. 4
    Next results in better thinking
  5. 5
    Also improves memory skills
  6. 6
    Finally, improves quality of life

Takeaway

Most of all, you don’t have to go to the gym to reduce your risk of dying. In fact, you can lower the risk by simply walking 2,700 steps each day. While walking 4,400 steps daily reduces the risk most. Also, because the study showed that risk of dying reaches a plateau, you don’t need to walk 10,000 or 15,000 steps. In fact, just walking 7,500 steps reduces the risk of dying as much as possible.

However, some people are not walkers. For example, they don’t have safe neighborhoods, or they feel unsteady on sidewalks. Consequently, these people need to be creative in getting that physical activity. Perhaps, these people need to go to a gym class or, the pool or, use pedals in their home.

Final Observations

First and foremost, the results of the study apply to only elderly women over 65 years of age. While these results may apply to elderly men over 65, more studies are needed. Similarly, the results of this study may not apply to the younger age groups of men and women. Finally, whether the results apply to these other groups or not, walking is one of countless ways for all to be active and stay healthy.

Other Studies on Steps

Meanwhile other studies show similar results. For example, a Canadian study of diabetics showed that improving step count from 5,000 to 6,200 steps daily improved sugar control.

Finally, another study found women in a 24 week walking program reduced their blood pressure by 11 points with 9,000 steps daily.

How Aerobics for Seniors Helps to Be Healthy Strong

How Aerobics for Seniors Helps to Be Healthy Strong

Most noteworthy, people 60 and over start to show signs of physiological aging. For example, their gait isn’t as long or as quick as it was when they were younger. Or they get tired sooner. In fact, physiological aging is characterized by a decline in the maximal aerobic capacity of their lungs, and, a decline in their skeletal muscle strength. Consequently, aerobics for seniors helps ward off these declines and helps seniors become and stay healthy.

Aerobics for Seniors

Maximal Aerobic Capacity

First of all, maximal aerobic capacity is defined as the maximum rate of oxygen consumption during incrementally increasing exercise intensity. In fact, maximal aerobic capacity is an indicator or cardiorespiratory fitness.  Furthermore, the lung’s maximal aerobic capacity determines the intensity and duration of aerobics seniors can tolerate and do.

In addition, the greater the lung’s maximal aerobic capacity, the more intense aerobics seniors can do and do them for longer periods of time. Most of all, outward signs of reduced maximal aerobic capacity appear during aerobics for seniors, when seniors engage in aerobic physical activities. During these aerobic activities, seniors may start running out of breath earlier than when they were younger, or, do the aerobics with lower intensity. Finally, lower maximal aerobic capacity limits senior to functionally perform some physical activities.

Why Maximal Aerobic Capacity is Important for Seniors

Sedentary lifestyles cause the maximal aerobic capacity to decrease nearly 44 percent in males and 34 percent in females from the age of 20 to the age of 60. Seniors whose maximal aerobic capacity has dropped significantly become very challenged to autonomously complete activities of daily living. Consequently, it is important for seniors to work at increasing their maximal aerobic capacity.

And one of the most important ways to do that is with aerobics. Aerobics for seniors have been known to increase maximal aerobic capacity by nearly 13 percent in an eight to ten weeks senior aerobic training programs. Senior aerobic training programs of twelve to eighteen weeks have resulted in nearly 14 percent improvement, while 24 to 52 weeks of senior aerobic training has resulted in a nearly 17 percent improvement. Participating in aerobic training program or even doing aerobics independently potentially delays loss of independence. Finally, higher intensity aerobics leads to even greater improvements in maximal aerobic capacity. In fact, an increase of 25 percent is like getting back an estimated 12 years of vigor.

Cardio for Seniors

Cardio or aerobic workouts force the heart and lungs to pump more blood and oxygen to the muscles, brain, and the body. Consequently, cardio for seniors are hugely helpful for their health. In fact, regular cardio workouts cause the entire pulmonary system to increase the lung’s maximum oxygen capacity.

Aerobics for Seniors - Guidelines

Especially relevant, the latest senior aerobic guidelines recommend seniors get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic workout each week. However, if chronic conditions limit seniors to less than 150 minutes, seniors should be as physically active as possible.

In addition, when doing aerobics seniors should raise their heart rate for stretches of 10 minutes.  And in that time, seniors should do either moderately intense or vigorously intense aerobics.

Furthermore, the minimum time for moderately intense cardio is 30 minutes on each of the five days of the week. Moreover, seniors will get even more benefits if they exercise for 60 minutes on each of the five days.

On the other hand, seniors don’t have to do it all in one stretch. Indeed, seniors can break up the 30 minutes into shorter aerobic workouts of at least 10 minutes each. Most of all, only the total time spent on aerobic workouts should be at least 150 minutes per week.

Finally, for less fit adults,  recommendations also encourage the accumulation of relatively hard physical activity in intermittent periods of exercise and physical activity lasting 10 minutes or longer throughout the course of the day.

Aerobics for Seniors – Unstructured Activities

Lastly the 2007 ACSM/AHA guidelines seniors include unstructured approaches to increasing physical movement. These unstructured activities include:

  • 1
    Going for a walk after dinner
  • 2
    Frequently taking the dog for a walk
  • 3
    Walking briskly when doing errands
  • 4
    Parking the car as far away from the entrance as possible
  • 5
    Taking walking breaks instead of coffee breaks
  • 6
    Doing more energetic housework (for example, vacuuming)
  • 7
    Using stairs in place of elevators
  • 8
    Doing more mall walking
  • 9
    Lastly, while watching TV or reading a book, using pedals to exercise arms and legs

Subjective Measures of Intensity

As a rule, aerobics for seniors is done at a moderate intensity when the seniors breathing and heart rates are noticeably higher. However, seniors can still carry on a full conversation, except that their breathing may be heavier and or they may be sweating. In addition, on a 10-point scale, with zero being a state of rest, moderate intensity workouts would be a 5 or 6 on the 10-point scale.

As another way to get a grasp of moderate intensity, walking a distance of two miles in 30 to 40 minutes (or a walking speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour) would meet the definition of moderate physical activity.

Aerobics for Seniors

Seniors need just as much exercise as those under age 65. Furthermore, seniors can choose from a wide variety of available workouts. In fact, their choices include, swimming, walking, jogging, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, rowing, bicycling, to name just a few. And if you prefer going to the gym or sports clubs, you have your choice of treadmills, several kinds of elliptical machines, stair climbers, several kinds of cycles, and even rowing machines. Treadmills are great for walking because they provide a cushion for your feet. Elliptical machines, on the other hand, keep your feet grounded to the pedals. As a result, they are good for you back, hips, and knees. Finally, you can use spin cycles, upright bikes, or even recumbent bikes that provide back support.

Not into Aerobics - Seniors Can Still Get Brain Benefits

The Western University in Ontario, Canada reported in a 2019 study  that even with short burst of reasonably low intense aerobics, seniors can improve their brain health. Researchers found that even only 10 minutes of senior aerobic activity, like walking, on a treadmill improves cognitive functions (such as memory and attention) of seniors. Moreover, these benefits are achievable even by seniors who hadn’t exercised for a long time. The study of 17 seniors, with an average age of 73, found that boost in executive functions, such as planning and organizing, was achievable with aerobic exercise intensities ranging from moderate, heavy, and vigorous levels.

And these benefits are not limited to seniors with high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. In fact, these benefits are achieved by seniors across a spectrum of senior aerobic intensities as well as across a spectrum of fitness levels. Meanwhile, seniors realize the cognitive benefits almost immediately.