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. Some people may do a situp and pushup now and then. But core exercises are often ignored. Still, it pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk, including your pelvis — in better shape. Read on to find out why.
Core exercises improve your balance and stability
Your core is the central part of your body. It includes your pelvis, lower back, hips and stomach. The stomach muscles sometimes are called abs. Core exercises train the muscles in your core to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and steadiness, also called stability. Stability is important whether you're on the playing field or doing regular activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.
Core exercises don't need equipment or a gym membership
Do the bridge to strengthen your core muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten the muscles in your stomach. Raise your hips off the floor until they line up with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Any exercise that involves the use of your stomach muscles and back muscles in a coordinated way counts as a core exercise. For example, using free weights while keeping your core stable trains and strengthens many of your muscles, including your core muscles.
Classic core exercises stabilize and strengthen your core. Classic core exercises include planks, situps and fitness ball exercises.
A bridge is another example of a classic core exercise. To do a bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back neutral, not arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your hips. Tighten the muscles in your stomach. Raise your hips off the floor until they line up with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths without breaking your form.
Core exercises can help tone your abs
Want more-defined stomach muscles? Core exercises are important. While it takes aerobic activity to burn fat in your stomach, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.
Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities
Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities. When your core muscles are strong, it's easier to swing a golf club, get a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Strong core muscles help athletes, such as runners. That's because weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.
Weak core muscles can leave you more prone to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strengthening your core muscles may help back pain get better and lower the risk of falls.
Core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals
Aerobic exercise and strength training make up most fitness programs. But core exercises are key to a well-rounded fitness program.
A fitness program that includes core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals. Plan to have a well-rounded fitness program whether you're new at fitness or a long-term athlete trying to improve results.
Sept. 22, 2022
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