You do cardio for stamina and heart health. You do a little weight work for body shaping. You run to burn off some calories quickly. But how much of your fitness time is devoted to developing a stronger core? Aside from the occasional crunch, many people do tend to overlook that aspect of their overall fitness plan.
That, however, may be a big mistake. Improving your core strength – that is the muscles around your pelvis and trunk – offers a number of key health benefits, including (of course) that flatter tummy most of us are looking for. Here are just a few of the biggest reasons why core exercises should become a larger part of your fitness regime:
Improve Your Balance and Stability
A good core exercise calls for the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in tandem. Over time this leads to increased balance and stability overall. A great thing for daily activities in general, especially as you age. A great many of the fall injuries older people suffer every year are because their balance and stability is weakening, so maintaining a strong core for life is a must to help prevent such things.
Core Strength Makes Other Physical Pursuits Easier
Do you like to get out onto the greens for a game of golf once in a while? A strengthened core will not only give you better balance but it should help with your overall swing as well. Want to up your tennis game? Improving your core strength will help there too. And those are just two examples. Professional athletes in every sport know that core strength is a key performance enhancer and that goes for amateur athletes too. A stronger core helps you do to more in other areas of your everyday fitness plan too.
Getting a Stronger Core
OK, so we have established that core exercises and improving core strength are more important than you may once have thought, but what should you be doing? Fortunately you really don’t need any specialist gym equipment or even a personal trainer to begin adding core strength moves to your workout. Here are some very simple examples to get you started:
The Knee Fold Tuck
Seat yourself on the floor, preferably on a cushioned surface like a gym or yoga mat. Sit up tall with your hands on floor, knees bent, squeezing a football or other simple mid-sized playground ball between them. Next, lift your knees so that they are parallel to the floor and raise your arms out in front of you. Pull your knees toward your shoulders, keeping your upper body still and then return to the starting position. Repeat for a series (initially) of five.
Not literally though. To perform this exercise seat yourself on your mat with with your legs extended. Your feet should be turned out in a V position and toes pointed. Consciously contract your core muscles and roll your spine into a C. Lift both arms and move them as if you really were climbing a rope. Repeat for 20 reaches with each arm.
The plank and variations of the move make for some of the best core moves out there. To perform a circle plank begin in a basic plank position and keep your abs tight. Next, draw your right knee in and circle it clockwise, then and then do so counterclockwise. Keep the rest of your body stationary at all times and aim to do a set of ten to begin with and work your way up from there.