By Mayo Clinic Staff, October 2007Core exercises strengthen your abs and other core muscles. Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. Aside from the occasional sit-up or crunch, however, core exercises are often neglected.So what are core exercises? And why are core exercises so important? Here’s what you need to know about your core muscles - and how to get them in better shape.Your body’s core is the area around your trunk and pelvis. When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work in harmony. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities - from swinging a golf club to getting a glass off a top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.Enter core exercises … Core exercises help you strengthen your core muscles. And it doesn’t take specialized equipment or an expensive gym membership to try core exercises. Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support counts. Think squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches.Getting the most from your workout
- Do core exercises at least 3 times a week as part of your regular fitness program.
- Get help from a trained professional. Body position and alignment are crucial when it comes to core exercises. When you begin, you might want to enlist a fitness trainer or physical therapist to help you perfect your technique.
- Breathe steadily and slowly. Your instinct may be to hold your breath during your core exercises. Don’t! It’s better to breathe freely.
- Focus on quality of movement rather than quantity. When starting out, take it slow. Concentrate on performing each exercise with correct technique. You’ll gradually build up to a greater number of repetitions.
- Take a break when you need one. If you work your core muscles to fatigue during an exercise session, wait at least a day between workouts to give your muscles time to recover.
- Keep in mind that core exercises are just one part of a complete fitness program. Aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching are important, too. Whether you’re an exercise novice taking the first steps toward fitness or a committed fitness fanatic hoping to optimize your results, a well-rounded fitness training program can help you reach your exercise goals.
By Mayo Clinic Staff, October 2007