A trainer helping a senior woman do a back strengthening exercise.

3 Easy Back Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Old age does not necessarily mean weakness. Seniors of all ages and abilities can strengthen their bodies, increase their mobility, and improve their balance.

Many different forms of exercise offer benefits to seniors. You can commit to a sport, try out a variety of exercise classes, or take what you like from a multitude of practices. However you choose to strengthen your body, you will benefit!

When you think of strength, what body part comes to mind? Many will say upper arms or legs, because of their visible muscles. However, the back and spine are frequently underrated when we consider our overall strength. A strong back will prevent pain, improve posture, balance, and mobility, and increase your spine stability.

The Importance of Back Strengthening for Seniors

A recent article finds that the prevalence of lower back pain increases with age. In fact, the age group with the highest prevalence of lower back pain is individuals around 85 years old. As many as 70% of older adults suffer from back pain.

Researchers studying lower back pain interventions in seniors conclude that strengthening exercises help to both alleviate pain and improve physical functions. Further, engaging in strengthening exercises can even reduce one’s risk of developing lower back pain.

Lower back strength is especially important for balance and comfort. Because these are two major concerns for many older adults, we’ve included several lower back strengthening exercises for seniors. These will help with stability and mobility as well as core strength.

The Best Back Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

You can do all these back strengthening exercises at home; for seniors, that’s the most accessible place. If necessary, modify these exercises to your comfort and ability level.

Exercising should never cause you pain. We always recommend speaking to a doctor before you begin any new exercise routine. Grab a bottle of water, put on some comfortable clothes, and it’s time to begin.

A senior man stretching his back.

1. Neck and Chest Stretch

See video here.

  • Sit up straight on a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Lace your fingers together and place your hands over your head to rest at the base of your neck, elbows out to the sides
  • Relax your head into your hands, turning your face up to the ceiling
  • Inhale deeply
  • Exhale, tilting to your left so that your left elbow points down to the floor and your right elbow points up to the ceiling
  • Take 2 deep breaths and return to center
  • Repeat on the other side

2. Seated Cat-Cow

See video here.

  • Sit up straight in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Place your hands on your knees, fingers toward the inside of your legs, and elbows out
  • Inhale
  • Exhale, pressing into your hands, raising your face up to the ceiling, and arching your back
  • Inhale, rolling your shoulders forward and dropping your chin to your chest
  • Repeat slowly with the pattern of your breath

3. Gentle Twist

See video here.

  • Sit up straight in a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor, leaving space between your back and the back of the chair
  • Inhale, pressing down into the chair, sitting up straight, and lifting your arms straight overhead
  • Exhale, turning gently to your right with your left hand outside your right knee
  • Inhale, sitting taller in the stretch
  • Take a few deep breaths, then repeat on the other side
Finding Strength as a Senior

Back strength is an underrated asset that can protect your health as a senior. Having a strong back is good for your spine, your balance, and your mobility. A strong back can also help to prevent falls. Along with these physical benefits come mental and emotional benefits, too.

Physical activity is easily modifiable, accessible, and free. Among its many benefits come better sleep, improved mood, and lowered depression and anxiety. Simple strength exercises can strengthen both our bodies and our mental health. In later life, these benefits are especially important.

Give your beloved seniors an environment where they can find their inner and outer strength. At The Moments, we honor our residents as whole people, not just memory care patients. We find strength through social connection, the sensory design of our community, and our loving and safe environment.

Learn more about enhanced assisted living at The Moments.

Published On: March 29, 2024