During recent years in the fitness industry, everyone is talking about the importance of strengthening the core muscles. There’s a reason for this. The core is the key to most activities.
The core is an array of muscles from your chest to your hips. They maintain balance, ensure stamina, keep you upright and protect the routes between your brain and your appendages.
If you're going to pay attention to one area of your body, the core is the place to start.
Benefits of a Strong Core
Here are just a few of the activities and abilities that depend on, and may be improved by, having strong, flexible core muscles, according to the authors of a Harvard Medical School Special Health Report on “Core Exercises: 6 workouts to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve balance.”
1. Activities of Daily Living
Every day movements like bending, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, rising from a bed, walking, or simply standing still, all depend upon and are preserved and improved by maintaining strong and flexible core muscles.
2. On the Job Tasks
Acts like lifting, twisting, standing, and even sitting at your desk for hours depend upon your core muscles. For example, tasks like phone calls, typing, computer use, and similar work depend upon your back muscles, and can make them sore and stiff if you don’t strengthen them, practice good posture, and take enough breaks.
3. Avoiding Low Back Pain
“Low back pain … may be prevented by exercises that promote well-balanced, resilient core muscles,” the authors state. In fact, core exercises are often prescribed to alleviate back pain when it strikes.
4. Sports and Other Pleasure Activities
Activities like golf, tennis, racquet sports, biking, walking, running, swimming, dancing, and many others, all depend upon, and “are powered by,” a strong core.
5. Avoiding Falls & Protecting Your Spine with Good Posture
A strong core gives you balance, which “stabilizes your body, allowing you to move in any direction,” and “lessens your risk of falling,” the authors point out. In addition, the good posture that should accompany a strong core “lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows you to breathe deeply.”
6. Strong Abs, and a Slimmer Waistline
Finally, core strength does include exercises to build your abdominal muscles, which, coupled with diet and aerobic exercises to lose weight, can help you achieve and maintain a flatter stomach and thinner waistline.
Exercises to Start Building Your Core
Some very good exercises for starting core training are the plank and side plank.
- Plank: Begin by lying on your stomach, elbows bent under your shoulders and weight on your forearms. Lift your upper body so that your weight is on the elbows and knees. Keep your back as straight as possible, contracting the belly into the spine. Do not let the hips drop or rise. Remember to breathe. Hold for 30 seconds, and work up to 1-2 minutes increasing by 10 seconds every three days that you train. Repeat for 1-3 sets.
- Side plank: Begin by lying on your side with your arm bent and weight resting on the elbow. Your knees should be bent as well. Keep your elbow under the shoulder and inline with your hips and knees. Lift the body up so that your weight is on the knee and elbow. Keep the body as straight as possible. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 1-2 minutes increasing by 10 seconds every three days that you train. Repeat on each side for 1-3 sets.
Every single person can benefit from core training due to the importance of the core muscles in daily activities and postural control. It is up to you when to start to improve your daily life through core exercises. It only takes 5 minutes.
We encourage you to start TODAY! And as soon as you improve, ask your trainer what else you can do to keep strengthening your core.