A Strong Core Can Bring Added Health Benefits
Although the focus of working out the core muscles is usual for appearances, such as building a noticeable six-pack, there’s more to strengthening your core than just looking good in a swimsuit. A strong core can increase health benefits for your entire body.
Your core is just that–the “core” of your body. All of your essential functions extend outward from the center, like the trunk of a tree. Your spine, organs, and limbs are all connected through the core of your body. Because everything is connected from the center, when your core muscles are weak, this affects your entire body, even if your limb muscles are strong. By strengthening your core, you will help increase your back strength and stabilize your whole spine. As a result, you reduce the chance of injury and improve your posture.
The core is made up of upper and lower muscles, both of which are important. Most people tend to focus on working out their upper muscles (again, working for that six-pack), but it’s important not to neglect the lower core muscles.
To workout your core, Garden of the Gods Sports Club Manager Lauralee Beerman recommends first getting an assessment from your personal trainer. It will take time to build up your core strength, and it’s important to take it slow and listen to your body. You can begin with doing short exercises at your desk. An article in Best Health Magazine recommends this workout:
A simple but effective exercise for building core stability is to draw in the abdominal muscles (think about your belly button pulling away from your pant line), hold for five breaths, and then relax. Repeat 10 times. [Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor Martha] Purdy recommends doing this 10 times a day.
When working out your core, Lauralee reminds us that it is important to remember to be cautious and pay attention to signs from your body. Check with your personal trainer or fitness instructor to be sure you are using the proper technique and have a neutral spine during your workout routine to prevent injury. Also, give your muscles at least a day to rest before exercising them again. And remember, give yourself (and your muscles) a break! Begin with the amount of exertion you can handle and gradually increase your workouts. This is something you can build up over time. For example, try and do the plank four to five times a week, adding a few seconds at a time.
Start building up your core strength in the coming winter months, and before you know it, you’ll be ready for swimsuit season!