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A 10-Minute Body-Weight Workout for Older Adults

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Build strength, stamina, balance and mobility with body-weight exercises like the hollow hold and push-up.

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Starting an exercise routine for the first time or coming back from a long break can be tough. But body-weight exercises are an excellent choice for anyone — but especially older adults — to build all-around strength, stamina, balance and mobility

Body-weight moves use your own body’s weight to provide the ideal resistance you need, all while protecting your bones and joints, which is particularly beneficial for older adults because as you age, you tend to lose bone mass and cartilage, according to Mount Sinai Health System.

Additionally, a small April 2021 study in ‌Experimental Gerontology‌ that examined the effects of body-weight and resistance band training on older adults found improvements in their muscle function and body composition. Muscle strength and function is important for daily activities like carrying groceries or lifting a heavy box off the floor.

What’s more, you can perform body-weight exercises almost anywhere, and they require no special equipment that might otherwise cost a lot of money or require a high skill level.

This 10-minute body-weight workout is made up of two rounds of exercises. Perform the exercises in round one 2 to 3 times through, resting 20 to 30 seconds in between each exercise. When you finish round one, rest 30 to 60 seconds. Then perform the exercises in round two 2 to 3 times through, resting 20 to 30 seconds in between each exercise. The amount of reps per exercise is listed below.

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Representatives

12

Activity

Body-Weight Workout

Region

Core and Upper Body

  1. Position yourself on your hands and knees, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  2. Step your feet back and straighten your legs so that you’re balanced on your palms and toes in a high plank position.
  3. Your body should make a straight line from head to hips to heels, and your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
  4. In a slow and controlled manner, bend your elbows to drop your chest towards the floor. Your arms should remain parallel to your sides with your elbows pointed backwards.
  5. Press into your palms and push the floor away from you to come back up to a high plank, still keeping your body in one straight line.

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Representatives

12

Activity

Body-Weight Workout

Region

Core and Lower Body

  1. Stand a few feet in front of a bench, box or chair, facing away from it.
  2. Reach your left foot back and place the top of your foot flat on the surface. To help with balance, widen your base of support by moving your left foot a few inches to the left.
  3. Raise your arms out to your sides until they reach shoulder height.
  4. Lean your torso forward slightly and bend your front knee to sink your hips towards the floor as low as you can comfortably go.
  5. Your front-leg shin should be vertical or close to it, while your back knee should point down towards the floor. If either leg is out of place, move your front foot forward or backward until you’ve found the ideal positioning.
  6. Push through the middle of your front foot to return to standing.
  7. Repeat.
  8. Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.

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Time

25 Sec

Activity

Body-Weight Workout

Region

Full Body

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs extended. Place your hands on the ground slightly behind you. Point your fingers towards your feet.
  2. Drive your heels into the ground and lift your hips up into alignment with your legs and chest. Rest on your heels and palms, fingers spread.
  3. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to hips to feet. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
  4. Gaze straight up towards the ceiling. Keep your chin off your chest, but make sure that your head isn’t collapsing towards the floor.

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Time

25 Sec

Activity

Body-Weight Workout

Region

Core

  1. Begin on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor.
  2. Curl your toes under and push through your hands and toes so your knees come off the floor an inch or two. Keep your core engaged and hips level so you don’t stick your butt into the air.
  3. Crawl forward with your right hand and left foot.
  4. Then, crawl with your left hand and right knee.
  5. Continue to crawl forward, alternating sides, 4 times.
  6. Reverse the motion to crawl backwards, alternating sides, 4 times.
  7. Continue crawling forward and backward for 25 seconds.

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Time

25 Sec

Activity

Body-Weight Workout

Region

Core and Lower Body

  1. Lie down on your back on the floor or on an exercise mat and press your lower back down into the ground.
  2. Squeeze your navel down towards the floor to activate your abdominal muscles. Make sure your legs are glued together as you gently raise them up off the ground.
  3. Float and extend both arms overhead and gently raise your head and shoulders off the floor, keeping your arms by the side of your face.
  4. Keeping your lower back flush against the floor, hold this position for 25 seconds. Think about pulling your belly button into the ground.
  5. Avoid tucking your chin in towards your chest. Instead, gaze down your body at your feet.

Type

If, while initially performing the hollow hold, you have trouble keeping your lower back on the floor, adjust the exercise to begin with your feet planted and your arms extended towards them rather than over your head. As you build core strength, you’ll eventually be able to assume the full starting position.