You can do 100 sit-ups, hold a plank for a full minute, and make bicycle crunches look easy. Your toned tummy shows the benefits of all your hard work, but core strength is about much more than just getting a taut midsection. Your core comprises all the muscles of torso, including your chest, back, abs, and obliques, and it is essential for functional movement — something that becomes even more important as we age.
Here are five good reasons to incorporate more core-strengthening exercises into your workout.
1. You’ll stand up straighter.
A strong core helps you maintain good posture, which makes you look slimmer and more confident, and helps prevent neck and shoulder problems, hip and knee injuries, and hunchback.
2. You can bend without snapping.
Elle Woods used the bend-and-snap in Legally Blonde to get a man’s attention, but the last thing you want to hear (or feel) when you bend is a snap. Strong core muscles support your spine, making it safer to bend over and tie your shoes, lift a heavy bag of groceries, or pick up a grandbaby.
3. You can go low.
If you’re reluctant to get down on the floor to play with a pet or clean under the bed because you’ve begun to find it harder to get up, it’s time for some core strengthening. Not only does a strong core help you get up off the floor, it can keep you from falling; balance and stability decrease as we get older.
4. You’ll improve your game.
Whether your jam is tennis, golf, running, or something else, a tight core means increased stabilization, which means you can swing harder or run faster or farther without risk of injury.
5. You’ll breathe easier.
Your diaphragm lives at the top of your core. The stronger your core, the more deeply you can inhale and the more fully you can exhale. Deep, controlled breathing helps alleviate stress and promotes relaxation.
Bonny Osterhage is co-founder and small-group trainer at BodyArchitecture Personal Training and Fitness in San Antonio, Texas.