Concentrate On Your Core

Whenever you walk or run, your core muscles are active, keeping you upright, balancing your body as your weight shifts, and absorbing the impact as your feet hit the ground. Your body’s core forms the foundation of all your movement. If your core is weak, you are susceptible to poor posture and injury. Lower back pain is also more likely to occur.

Your core muscles lie deep within your torso and pelvis. They are layered, overlapping and connected to each other.

Unlike weight lifting, a core-strengthening program exercises your whole system at once. You also don’t need any equipment. The strength you use in holding a position, as well as the gravitational pull of your own weight, work out the core muscles. You’ll be surprised at how great an effect a simple routine can have on your daily living activities.

The Core Benefits
The major core muscle is called the transversus abdominis. It is deep in your abdomen and circles your torso. To feel it contract, pull your belly button toward your spine. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat several times. You can do this exercise anytime, anywhere.

Breathing is important while you do core exercises. Practice breathing deeply from your diaphragm before starting core exercises. Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds, expelling as much air from your lungs as you can. Then inhale for 6 counts, feeling your belly and chest expand as your lungs fill with air. Repeat 3 times, then breathe at a more normal pace throughout
your exercises.

The following core exercises are simple enough to do on your own. To be safe, you should always check with your doctor before trying any new exercises.

Leg Press
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Raise your right leg off the floor with the knee still bent until your leg forms a 90-degree angle. Rest your right hand on the kneecap. Push against your knee with your right hand while pulling your knee toward your hand with your abdominal muscles. Hold for 3-4 deep breaths. Repeat with the left leg and hand.

Abdominal Crunch
Lie on your back and place your feet on the wall, so that your knees form a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms on your chest. Keep your gaze fixed forward. Using your abdominal muscles—not your neck—lift your chest as far as you can off the floor, even if it is only an inch or two. Hold for 2-3 seconds if you can, then release. Repeat 8 times. Remember to breathe deeply throughout this exercise.

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Member Comments

Great info! Thank you! Report
Good article. Report
Thanks!! Report
It is simple and helpful. I had never heard of the leg press; changed hand position so not right on knee joint, repeated & extended count. On the crunch, concentrated on keeping neck as relaxed as possible and not raising much, but really tightening abs. Then flipped over and did some of Coach Nicole's back raises to balance. Surprisingly effective! Report
Though an old article, this is real good. Some very good, basic tips. Thanks! Report
Never thought about my core like that. Great article. Report
Just what I needed! I teach 8 hours straight and never sit down. I do feel it in my lower back.... Thanks! Report
This article is a great starter! I will be delving into this topic! Report
I would have enjoyed even more of this article ! More on this subject please ! Thanks. Report
i agree that the exercise bike is the best core strengthening workout for me.Everyday i can feel my back muscles working correctly as i walk.Being a top-heavy lady this is better than jogging for me, Report
CATHYROD
DahnYoga focuses their exercise on the core and we do alot of abdominal tapping. This has made my core very strong and it really works. check out their website. dahnyoga.com Report
I have been doing at least 3 core workouts a week for many months and these exercises have strenghened my back as well. I've had some lower back issues for years and my pain is gone. I try to workout my abs every day. Using a stability ball is different than just doing crunches. You have to really be aware of balancing your body so you don't fall off the silly thing. Report
Probably the best SINGLE core strength exercise is the "bicycle." It works the frontal abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus) and the obliques, plus the transverse adominals. I highly recommend core strength exercises -- 30 minutes at least twice a week. They have made a BIG difference in my running, and help greatly in backpacking and just about every other activity as well. Report
MANPA764
I had one of my stomach muscles used to reconstruck a breast due to cancer and really
have not been able to tighten my abs since. Will these core exercises really benefit me? Since that surgery I cannot get certain clothes I used to wear to fit around my waist. Report
One great exercise that wasn't mentioned in this article is the plank. It's on the exercise demos, though, so you can look it up and see how it's done. It is great for really working deep stabilizing muscles and creating a flat stomach look. Report


 

About The Author

The American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is a charity that has contributed more than $70 million for research on diet and cancer. AICR educates Americans how to make dietary changes to lower their cancer risk.
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