In my last newsletter/blog, I listed some simple core exercises and some of the benefits to be gained by doing them on a regular basis.
If you missed that, or need reminding, see them all again right here.
The core muscles are so important to the overall good function of our bodies, that I think it’s worth a little time here to expand on some of the benefits of keeping them strong and healthy.
First, the core muscles form very sturdy link in a chin which connects the upper and lower body. It doesn’t matter what the activity it is – hitting a tennis ball or mopping a floor, climbing a mountain or lifting a child – the necessary motions either originate in the core or move through it.
Wherever motion in the body starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain that keeps it all together, so weak or inflexible core muscles can impair good movement of the arms and legs, and sap power from many moves.
Building up the core cranks up power and enhances balance and stability, both increasingly necessary as we age. It can help to prevent falls and sports injuries as well as sprained joints, strained tendons, and broken bones that can occur at any stage of life.
Second, fact, a strong, flexible core undergirds almost all activities, including, but certainly not limited to the following.
– Everyday acts. Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or just standing still are just a few of the tasks we unthinkingly perform every day. We don’t give them a thought until they become difficult or painful. The basics of everyday life, such as bathing and dressing, call the core muscles into action.
– On-the-job tasks. Those that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. The less obvious tasks like sitting at a desk for long hours engage the core. Phone calls, typing, (ahem!), computer use, and similar work can make back muscles surprisingly stiff and sore. This is particularly true if posture is not practiced or sufficient breaks from the activity are not often sufficient.
– A healthy back. Low back pain, which is at least annoying, and can be a debilitating and sometimes excruciating problem. I am definitely one of the four out of five Americans who have been significantly affected by it, and in my case as with most others it could have been prevented by well-balanced, resilient core muscles. Currently, when back pain strikes, a regimen of core exercise is often prescribed to relieve it, even if it is coupled with medications, physical therapy, or other modalities. With a healthy, strong back, these other things are usually not needed.
– Sports and other fun activities. Golfing, tennis and other racquet sports, biking, running, swimming, baseball, volleyball, kayaking, rowing, and many other athletic activities are powered by a strong core.
Household chores, fix-it work, and gardening. Bending, lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, reaching overhead, as well as vacuuming, mopping, and dusting, are acts that spring from, or pass through the core.
Balance and stability. The core is the great stabilizer of the body. It allows movement in any direction, even on the bumpiest terrain, or to stand in one spot without losing balance. Core strength is a key factor in preventing falls, and falls can mean all sorts of other problems.
Good posture. Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Good posture produces a trim silhouette and projects confidence and strength. More importantly, it lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows for good deep breathing. Good posture also adds to the list of benefits derived from exercising efforts.
It’s a full circle thing in my mind. When it comes to healthy efficient body movement, all things originate, flow through, and return to the core.
Strong core muscles don’t happen in a day. It’s regular exercise – daily is best – which includes some designated core work, (and there are many exercises that work well), combined with a nutrient-rich, plant-based diet that is key to moving toward full, optimum health and energy.
Because it is so easy to be distracted from giving our body the care it needs, I recommend joining with others for exercise and include some core work.. For the best progression results, some accountability is very helpful. Sign up with a trainer for awhile, join a class, or find an exercise buddy. You’ll move better, feel better, live better at any age or stage.