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Strength Move for Walkers: Bird Dog

Power your walks and improve posture with a stronger core.

By Michele Stanten

Ready to get stronger?

If you’re just joining us, feel free to jump right in. The key thing to know about strength training is you should do it at least twice a week, and with the SilverSneakers Million Pound Challenge, you have options. You can take a SilverSneakers class or other group fitness class that incorporates strength training, or try a new gym workout. Or you can follow along with me as I share one new strength move each week to help you build a five-move circuit by the end of the month.

Last week, we did a squat. This week’s move is the bird dog, which targets your core. All movement is generated from your core, so a strong core is important for walking—and any everyday activity. Here’s how to do it.

Step #1: Put Hands Under Shoulders, Knees Under Hips

Come down to your hands and knees, stacking hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Whether you’re at the gym, at home, or outside, you can use a mat or towel to cushion your knees.

Step #2: Extend Arm and Opposite Leg

Brace your core, and raise your right arm and left leg until they’re in line with your body. Your neck should be in line with your back, and your gaze should be slightly down or forward. Hold for three to five seconds, and then slowly lower.

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Step #3: Repeat on Other Side

Brace your core, and repeat with your left arm and right leg. Aim to do one to three sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Make It Your Own

Like most exercises, you can—and should—customize the bird dog to make it work for you. Try this:

  • To make it easier, do this move by standing and placing your hands on a chair. Or come down to your hands and knees, but only raise your leg.
  • To make it harder, hold each rep for a few seconds longer.
  • To create your own circuit, do a set of squats and then a set of bird dogs. Repeat this circuit between three and five times for a short strength workout. Rest at least a minute between circuits.

Note: The exercises in this workout may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.

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