You have probably heard people refer to “Core exercise”. The term core refers to your body minus your legs and arms. Functional movements are highly dependent on the core, and lack of core developmentcan result in a predisposition to injury. In fact in many cases when you fall and incur injury (sprained wrist or ankle, broken arm, hip etc.) disaster doesn’t come because you tripped. Instead it happens because you tripped and were unable to right your course and catch yourself. Your core muscles were too weak to come to your aid so you plummeted all the way to the pavement.
Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional sit-ups and push-ups, however, core exercises are often neglected. Still, it pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk and pelvis — in better shape. Read on to find some ideas shared by the Mayo clinic.

Core exercises improve your balance and stability

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.
Core exercises can help tone your abs

Want more-defined abdominal muscles? Core exercises are important. Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.

Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities

Strong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a golf club to getting a glass from the top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. (Note back pain is often the result of weak abdominal muscles—your poor back is having to make up for what your abdominal core muscles aren’t able to do)

Core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals

Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs. But to have a truly well-rounded fitness program, you should include core exercises in the mix as well.

Core strength needs to be safeguarded as you age. My girlfriend Gail and I often visit a 94 year old friend named Lorna. Poor Lorna can be sore for days if she does something as simple as step up on a stepstool to dust something. On the other hand my daughter that is a Pilates teacher recently had her class doing a plank challenge –HOLD A PLANK FOR 3 FULL MINUTES . An older gentleman in the class (in his 60’s) said “My wife and I can plank for 6 minutes”. The whole class was impressed that after they dropped out at 3 minutes the gentleman went on to plank for 6 minutes and his wife continued to 7. (He explained he can go to 7 also but if he goes to 7 she tries to go to 8 and he didn’t want her to hurt herself.)

So what is your challenge for the week? I would like you to practice planking every day and I hope you will continue this challenge beyond this week and complete this monthly challenge. (Note I have a young friend that makes it a practice to plank every day before her morning shower- a great way to keep up with core strength)

I am including 5 levels of planking so you can begin where you must. Remember it’s not where you are at now but that you begin to make dedicated daily positive progress. For each day that you give your best effort to planking you earn the 5 daily bonus points.

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