There are many reasons to exercise your core muscles, not just having killer six-pack abs like my friend Valerie Hunt from Fit & Fearless CrossFit – although we’ll all agree this is a nice perk! Keeping fit in your midsection, by working out both the abs and back muscles, helps the body function properly with everyday chores like lugging around a kicking toddler or unloading bags of mulch from car. With stronger core muscles, you’ll be less prone to injury and have more stability, flexibility and muscle tone to boot! I used to avoid sit-ups and crunches at all costs, until one day after a 10-mile running race I wondered why my back hurt more than my legs. Apparently, it was almost too much for my weak core to stay upright for the distance – that’s when I gave in to a new workout plan that included a little more attention to my middle! Nothing hardcore or time-consuming, you can make up a routine at home that takes 15 minutes or less, two to three times a week. There are plenty of core exercises to choose from if you surf around the Web or flip through fitness magazines, here are three fun and fairly easy moves to get you started that were first published in Real Simple:
Knee Fold Tuck
(A) Sit tall, hands on floor, knees bent, squeezing a medium ball between them. (B) Lift knees so shins are about parallel to the floor; extend arms. Pull knees toward shoulders, keeping upper body still. Bring knees back to starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
Side Balance Crunch
Begin with left knee and left hand on the floor, right arm straight up. Extend right leg so your body forms a straight line. (B) Pull right knee toward torso and right elbow toward knee. Straighten arm and leg. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
(A) Begin in a plank on an uncarpeted floor, hands under shoulders and a towel under feet. (B) With legs straight, raise hips and draw legs toward hands into a pike position—your feet should slide easily. Hold for one count, then return to start. Repeat 10 times.