Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles

You know core exercises are good for you — but do you include core exercises in your fitness routine? Here's why you should.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional situps and pushups, however, core exercises are often neglected. Still, it pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk and pelvis — in better shape. Read on to find out 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. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.

Core exercises don't require specialized equipment or a gym membership

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Any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in coordinated fashion counts as a core exercise. For example, using free weights in a manner that involves maintaining a stable trunk can train and strengthen several of your muscles, including your core muscles. You may also try several specific core exercises to stabilize and strengthen your core.

A bridge is a classic core exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position, not arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold the position for as long as you can without breaking your form.

Jul. 18, 2014 See more In-depth

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