When you think of being physically in shape, what comes to mind? Marathoners hammering the pavement mile after mile? A gymnast achieving a perfect “10” on a floor routine? Guys in the gym lifting their bodyweight?
An individual’s definition of fitness may vary, but in general, fitness is your ability to finish physical tasks easily. That involves running a 5K; carrying full grocery bags into your home; and even spending a day walking 18 holes of golf without getting fatigued or out of breath — or waking up stiff and bruised the next day.
Fitness begins with your core. The strength and flexibility of your abdominal muscles affect your capacity to do almost every action performed on a normal day — e.g., getting out of bed, sitting at your desk, walking your dog.
A weak center can have many consequences. First, doing even mundane tasks is more difficult because your core muscles aren’t strong. You may have aches and pains in your back, or notice that you get tired more easily during activity. A weak core hurts your production in the gym. It limits the amount of weight you’re able to lift because strength-building exercises all start from your core. Further, a weak core can impede your posture and ability to perform cardio exercise such as running and biking.
Your body’s core is the base for physical motion. When the muscles that make up your center are strong, it is easier to move around as well as have more power and impact in your movements. Developed abdominals influence a simple task like standing up from a sitting position and as intricate as running and stretching to backhand a tennis ball back towards your opponent. A strong core is also a fundamental element of stability and can help reduce your chance of falling.
It means that you are better equipped to perform tasks that involve stretching, reaching and extending your body. Ever painted walls in your home? From crouching and bending to paint the trim; to using a roller to smooth paint in an up-and-down motion; to stretching to reach the highest corners of your room, your core stabilizes and supports you.
The accompanying resource lists more benefits of strengthening your core and includes five simple exercises to help you do so.