Health Coach Corner – by Maria Hicks
Do you suffer from carrying around extra weight around your mid-section? Does your low back hurt? If so, here’s some good news! You can strengthen your abs & back with five simple “core” exercises I am going to share with you. Strengthening your core – which consists of your abdominal muscles and your back, is incredibly important! The stronger your core muscles, the easier simple tasks become… like, doing laundry, sitting at your desk, carrying groceries, picking up your children, etc… Think of your core muscles as your “internal belt”. A strong core will protect your spine and help improve your posture. Better posture actually makes you appear 5-10 lbs lighter! Most of us slouch from time to time, having a strong core will automatically improve your posture and you will slouch less often.
People ask me all the time… If I do a bunch of crunches, will my waist get smaller? Unfortunately, you can’t “spot reduce” – the best way to shrink your waist is to lose body fat through cardio and strength training exercises that burn fat & calories. Core exercises are important to strengthen the muscles underneath the fat. As you lose fat, your muscles will start to appear and you can go for that “6-pack” if you want to!
Here are my five favorite core exercises that target upper, lower abdominals, your oblique’s (“love handles”) and your back! Try them out!
Simply lie down on a thin mat with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor, pushing your heels down and back a little. Place your hands next to your neck (don’t tug at the back of your head) and contract your abs and lift, use the floor or stability ball
Similar to the regular crunches, this one focuses on a twisting motion where you try to touch your left knee with your right elbow and vice versa. The lower back should still be pressed into the floor at all times.
Turn facedown so that you rest entirely on your toes and elbows/forearms with a straight back. Keep your eyes on the floor to maintain a straight spine. Try to hold this position for as long as you can, paying close attention to any sagging.
Starting as a plank, you turn sideways so that you rest on the side of one foot and just one elbow/forearm. Keep the feet together and maintain a rigid position for as long as possible.
Sit on the floor with your knees together in front of you and both feet firmly planted on the floor. Grab a small medicine ball and move it over your knees and down the side, until it touches the floor.