When most people think about having a strong core, they equate it with having six pack abs or a flat belly. For a lot of people achieving that is a huge motivator for working out. I get that. A tight, trim midsection looks great. But there’s much more benefit to having a strong core that goes beyond just how you look in a swimsuit.
Your core is not just your ab muscles. It starts in your pelvic area and extends all the way up to your sternum and around to your back. Basically it’s everything except your arms and your legs. Core strength has an impact on every single movement you make. In fact, just about every movement originates in your core. Whether you’re mopping the floor or tying your shoes, you’re engaging your core. So, it’s safe to say that strengthening your core will help you do almost everything better.
Here are just a few of the benefits of a strong core:
Better athletic performance – Whether you’re a runner, a swimmer or play recreational sports, improving your core strength with improve your game. If your core is solid you’ll be better able to hold certain body positions. And your arms and legs will actually be stronger since their power is rooted in your core. A strong core helps you battle fatigue and gives your more endurance.
Relief from back pain – When a client tells me they suffer from lower back pain I always suggest exercises to strengthen their core. Your core supports your spine so, if it’s weak you’re more prone to back injury and pain. As an example, a weak core can lead to poor posture when you’re sitting which can cause compression in your spinal discs. Ouch! Exercises like bridges, bird dogs and front and side planks really help.
Easier digestion – A healthy core is vital to healthy digestion. If your core is weak and your abs are collapsed it results in compression against your digestive organs which slows everything down. In contrast if your core is strong you sit and stand straighter and there is more physical space in your abdominal cavity for digestion to happen.
Better heart health – How can your core affect your heart? Here’s the connection. Belly fat and more specifically the visceral fat that settles between your abdominal wall and your organs is very tightly linked to heart disease. Nothing cuts through fat better than muscle. So, if the muscles in your abs are developed and strong, you’re much less likely to have visceral fat that can lead to heart attacks.
My favorite core strengthening exercise is the plank. It hits every single muscle in your core and then some.