Building a strong core with overall exercise plan

The core is the mid section of your body including the torso muscles and their corresponding ligaments and tendons.  It is in this section that all sport and functional movements originate.  Core muscles allow you to control your center of gravity, which has a direct impact on balance and posture.  Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities and therefore are important for a healthy living.

Core exercises are sets of exercises designed to strengthen your core muscles, with the focus on building abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis.   Core exercise should be an important part of any well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional sit-ups and push-ups, however, core exercises are often neglected. It pays to get your core muscles in better shape. Here is why.

Core exercises improve your balance and stability

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities.  Most sports and daily physical activities depend on stable core muscles.  Whether you want to perfect your baseball swing or power up your tennis backhand, you need a strong core.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities

Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities, such as swing a golf club, get a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Strong core muscles are also important for athletes, such as runners, as weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.

Weak core muscles can leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strengthening core muscles may also help improve back pain.

It’s well worth including core work in your exercise plan. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following well-rounded plan:

  • At least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or one-and-a-quarter hours (75 minutes) of vigorous activity per week, or an equivalent combination of the two. (During moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, you can talk, but not sing; during vigorous activity, such as running, you can’t say more than a few words without needing to catch your breath.)
  • Strength-training sessions twice a week for all major muscle groups, including your core.
  • Balance exercises.

Core exercise falls under the second and third categories: strength training and enhancing balance. Incorporate yoga practice is a great way to build the core strength.  Effective core building yoga poses include high plank, low plank, side plank, boat, bridge, locust, and superman.  Effective balance poses include dancer, tree, warrior III, half moon, and warrior.  Here are the graphic illustrations, enjoy!

High Plank

Low Plank

Side Plank

Boat

Bridge

Locust

Superman

Dancer

Tree

Warrior III

Half Moon

Warrior

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