Take your fitness to the next level, no matter what your physical activity of choice may be. Today I begin a 3 part series with practical tips that are easy to incorporate into your life and current regimen. First things first- start with your core.
Now that yoga and Pilates have made it to the mainstream fitness scene to stay, core work is getting more attention, which is fantastic. It is critical for an overall health emphasis to incorporate core work for both injury prevention and stabilizing your spine.
It’s easy. First, you can engage your core in whatever activity you do, including walking, cycling, golf, dancing, and running. Simply draw your belly button towards your spinal cord. You can even do this while you sit at your computer! Feel your posture improve as your elongate your torso. Add to this a conscience relaxation of the shoulders- away from your ears- down and slightly back. Last, gently draw your shoulders back a little while you keep your belly button towards your spinal cord. Take a nice breath in from your diaphragm instead of your abdomen, (from your lungs instead of your tummy). Don’t skimp with shallow breathing- try 4 seconds in and 4 seconds out. This will optimize lung function. Keep this posture and breathing pattern for 1-3 minutes once per hour if you work at your computer, and as long as possible with whatever exercise routine you do.
When doing abdominal exercises like crunches or sit-ups, it’s very important to be sure your core is engaged. Follow the above steps before starting any abdominal work to ensure that you are working towards a flat tummy. If your core is not engaged, you can actually work a “pooch” instead of a flat belly! So, instead of getting all fancy with leg lifts and such, concentrate on engaging your core and master that before progressing.
The best way to add core work to your current routine is to begin with the “Plank” and the “Bridge.” They are easy and very effective when done properly. If you have any pain with these exercises, definitely hold off and ask your doctor of chiropractic or medical doctor before continuing. Here are videos that have good demonstrations.
If you don’t have a work out routine, consider simply walking 10 minutes per day and doing the plank and bridge. In less than 15 minutes per day, you could really jump start your health and well-being!