Strengthening your core: It’s Important

Strengthening your core is more beneficial that you realize. Your core is the vital “foundation” of all your body’s movements, whether you are walking, carrying a heavy bag, or playing a sport. Maintaining a strong body core is important at any age because balance, posture and back health have all been linked to core strength. 

There are many ways that you can work on core strength, through a variety of physical activity opportunities. This article outlines basic information about your core muscles, the importance of core fitness, and some basic core strengthening exercises to get you started.

strengthening your core

What Are Your Core Muscles?

Many people mistakenly think that their “abs” or abdominal muscles are the only core muscles.In fact, the core muscle group includes all of the muscles that are located in your torso that keep the body stable and balanced.  It makes sense when you think about it. It takes many different muscles working together to keep your body well-aligned during different daily activities.

Your core muscles can be split into two types of muscles: stabilizers and movers.

  • The stabilizer muscles attach directly to the spine and support its movement.
  • The movers are the muscles that support the stabilizer muscles and work with them to move your body.

All of these muscles work together to support and move the body safely.  Core muscles provide a great base of support, allowing you to move your body to do everyday tasks and participate in physical activity.

Why Is Core Fitness Important?

These days, as our lives become increasingly sedentary, we spend more time sitting, with our core muscles relaxed.  This sedentary time happens at home, in vehicles and at work. For instance, Canadian adults spend more than half of their waking hours at their workplace, often sitting at a computer for most of the workday.

Reversing the trend towards more sedentary lifestyles is a challenge. A vital part of meeting that challenge, however, is to engage those core muscles that relax while we are sitting.

A great way to start working your core can be as simple as being aware of your posture throughout the day.  For example, several times a day, take a minute to stand tall, relax your shoulders and think about your posture.

There is some evidence to suggest that core stabilization and core strengthening can help to improve back health, balance and overall functional fitness.

Functional fitness is the ability for you to maintain a fitness level that allows you to complete the tasks that you need to do daily.  For example, you have enough strength and endurance to shovel your driveway, rake your leaves, carry home some heavy groceries from the store, or not lose your balance on an icy walk.

core fitness

Core Exercises: Get Started Safely!

When starting to work on improving your core strength, make sure you begin safely.  Talk to your doctor to see if you are ready to be active. You may need to find out what you can do that is safe for you and your body. Begin slowly and consult a certified exercise professional if you are unsure about how to begin your new exercise routine.

If you are just starting to focus on increasing your core strength it is a great investment to enroll in a class or work with a certified exercise professional to teach you the proper technique for a variety of core exercises.  After you learn how to properly perform core exercises, you can practice them at home with little or no equipment.

Group activity classes like Pilates is a great way to start, as it places an emphasis on core strength in their poses and movements.   Look for a beginner program that teaches the proper movements and offers easy access to an instructor who is able to offer corrections and support.

Many group exercise classes include core exercises within a wider program of exercise, so if you are unsure, ask beforehand if the class will help to improve your core strength.

Examples of Core Exercises

A good way to start is to focus on your posture. For instance, as you stand or walk, try to engage your core by trying to pull your belly button towards your spine. As you progress and develop more core strength, you can start to do more challenging exercises, such as standing on one foot. You can also use core-strengthening equipment, such as stability balls, medicine balls, and wobble boards. When you are a little more advanced, you can try to do core exercises like planks and V-sits. These help to strengthen the muscles that help to stabilize your spine.

Looking Ahead

Including core strengthening exercises to your physical activity routine can be beneficial, whether you are gearing up for a favourite sport or activity, or just your daily activities. If you are just starting to strengthen your core, start slowly and seek out a certified professional at Body Forte  to help get you started.

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