Simple back exercises for seniors

4 Simple Upper Back Exercises for Seniors to Build Strength

Unlike the lower back, the upper back is an often-overlooked part of the body when it comes to exercise, but for seniors, this is an important part of the body to work – particularly if you spend most of the day sitting.

A strong upper back can promote better posture and help prevent back pain.

The following exercises are simple to perform and require minimal equipment, so you can perform them whenever and whereever is most convenient for you.

1. Wall Push-Ups

Wall push-ups are a gentle way to reap the benefits of the classic push-up. This simple exercise will improve the strength in your upper back and your chest.

A wall is all you need to start improving your strength.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start by standing two feet from a wall. Make sure the wall is clear of pictures, artwork or anything else that may be hanging.
  • Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height and at shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your core straight and upright, bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the wall. Allow your heels to come off the floor slightly.
  • Pressing through your hands, straighten your elbows and return to the starting position.

If the exercise is too difficult, you can move closer to the wall to make it a little easier. Don’t worry if you find wall push-ups challenging at first. After a few weeks, you will build up more strength and will eventually be able to move further away from the wall.

2. Opposite Arm and Leg Balance

If you can perform floor exercises safely, the opposite arm and leg balance will work many key areas of the body that will keep you limber.

Opposite arm and leg balances will work your upper back, core and glutes. It will also help strengthen your coordination and balance.

For added safety, consider performing this exercise on carpeting or a yoga mat. You may also want to place a pillow or rolled up blanket below your chest to provide your head with a soft place to land in case you lose your balance.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start on all fours. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders. Your knees should be under your hips.
  • Lift your right arm at shoulder height and reach out in front of you.
  • At the same time, lift your left leg straight behind you.
  • Tighten your core and keep your back flat to create a straight line from your fingertips to your toes.
  • Lower your hand and foot.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Perform as many repetitions of this exercise as you feel comfortable, even if that means one set on each side. If you can handle these, you may want to consider trying yoga.

3. Upward Plank

The upward plank is another effective upper back exercise for seniors who are able to get down and up from the floor with ease.

This exercise will also improve flexibility in the shoulders and promote abdominal strength.

For this exercise, you will need a yoga or exercise mat. Do not perform this exercise on any type of flooring – hard or soft – without a mat.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start out by sitting with your back and legs straight. Your body should create an “L” shape.
  • Place your hands down at your side with your palms on the mat, fingers facing toward your feet.
  • Pressing your hands down onto the floor, lift your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Lower back down to the floor.

If this exercise is too difficult, you can try performing it on the edge of a chair. The chair is a gentler version and requires less upper body strength.

If you decide to use a chair, which is perfectly fine, make sure that the chair is up against the wall and that you are still practicing on a mat that prevents slipping.

4. Right Angle Press

The right angle press helps boost upper body strength without putting too much strain on your body.

To perform this exercise, you will need an exercise bar. Choose a bar with a weight that you feel comfortable lifting.

Here’s what to do:

  • Start by standing up straight with your legs hips-width apart.
  • With your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, hold the bar at chest height with one hand on each end.
  • With your upper arms parallel to the floor, rotate your shoulders back.
  • Bring the bar behind your head, keeping your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Return the bar to the starting position.

Perform as many repetitions as you can, aiming for about 12-15 reps. Remember, it’s okay to start with just a few repetitions and work your way up to more as you gain more strength.

These four exercises are challenging enough to strengthen your upper back muscles, but are still safe enough for seniors to perform without getting hurt. Remember to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program and ask for help with your workouts if you have balance issues.