Nicole L. Campbell: Core exercises strengthen your core muscles, including the muscles in your abdomen and back. You can do many core exercises with a fitness ball. Let's try the plank.

Lie on the fitness ball on your stomach, with your feet touching the floor behind the ball. Lean forward until you touch the floor with your hands.

Walk your hands away from the ball until you feel the ball reach your upper thighs. Your feet will be suspended above the floor, and you'll be balancing on your hands and the ball. Keep your shoulders directly above your hands.

Tighten your abdominal muscles, and hold for three deep breaths or as long as you can maintain your balance and form. Then return to the starting position.

If you're just starting out, repeat the exercise five times. To make the exercise more challenging, work the ball down to your shins.

Remember to breathe freely and deeply throughout the exercise, and keep your abdominal muscles nice and tight. As you get stronger, gradually increase to 10 to 15 repetitions.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

May 10, 2021