Easy exercises to strengthen the core

Strengthening the core muscles is essential to keeping our bodies in tip-top shape. These basic guidelines will show you how to get started.

Easy exercises to strengthen the core

A routine for beginners or people recovering from illness or injury

Rating: easy

Perfect for people who:

  • Have not exercised for two years or more.
  • Are overweight or have limited movement.
  • Are recovering from prolonged injury or illness.
  • Are new to formal fitness plans.

What's needed:

  • Light to medium dumbbells.
  • Towel.
  • Pillow.
  • Supportive chair.
  • Wall space.

Pelvic Tilt

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, your hands behind your head, and your elbows extended to the sides.
  2. Lift your pelvis up and toward your ribcage, tightening your lower abdominal muscles and gently "pushing" back into the floor. Hold for two seconds, then relax and let your pelvis rotate back to its normal position.
  3. Repeat the exercise in a slow, controlled manner.

Standing Twist

  1. Stand straight with your legs hip- to shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell with two hands and extend your arms straight in front of you, keeping your elbows soft.
  2. Keeping your arms extended, contract your abdominal muscles and turn your torso to the right as far as comfortably possible. Pause, then return to start.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating for a full set of reps on each side.

Seated Toe Lift

  1.  Sit straight all the way back in a chair and place your hands on the sides of the seat in front of your hips or on the chair arms.
  2. Contract your abdominal muscles and slowly lift your feet off the floor as far as comfortably possible.
  3. Pause, then lower your feet back to the floor.

Navel Pull

  1. Sit in a chair with your hands on your stomach. Contract your abdominal muscles and pull your navel in toward your spine.
  2. Keeping your abs tight, slowly inhale for 4 to 5 seconds and exhale for 8 to 10 seconds.
  3. Relax and repeat.

Lying Rotation

  1. Lie on a mat on the floor (or if more comfortable, on a bed) on your right side with your right arm bent and right hand under your head.
  2. Bend both legs (you can put a pillow between your knees for added comfort).
  3. Extend your left arm straight in front of you.
  4. Then slowly rotate it up toward your head and all the way around (your torso will naturally roll back and your palm will flip so it's facing up; but keep your lower body stable) past your head, behind your back, and over your hips until it's back to the starting position.
  5. Switch sides.

Morning Stretch

  1. Lie on a mat on the floor (or if more comfortable, on a bed), raise your arms overhead, and extend your legs so your body forms a straight line from your heels to your head.
  2. Imagine that strings are pulling your arms and feet in opposite directions and try to extend your limbs as far as you can.
  3. Keep your feet flexed.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax.

Reach and Bend

  1. Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Gently lean to the left as you raise your right arm toward the ceiling, curving it slightly overhead, palm facing down.
  3. Hold, then repeat on the other side.

Side Stretch

  1. Sit in a chair (preferably one without arms) and grasp the back of the seat by your left buttock with your left hand, palm facing your body.
  2. Hold on as you gently lean forward and drop your right ear toward your right shoulder.
  3. Hold, then repeat on the other side.
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