Fit to the Core

If you're like most people, your mam reasons tor exercising are to be healthier, get in shape, and look better. All are worthy goals that you can achieve with an ongoing commitment to exercise and diet. But for a strong, defined, fit body, you've got to lay the right groundwork—and that means training your core muscles. Unless you've been stranded on a desert island, you've heard about core training. But what exactly does it mean, and why do you need to work your core?

With every move you make, there are muscles that keep you steady and stabilized, and other muscles that produce motion. Those that keep your body stable and balanced during movement, plus hold you upright, are your core muscles, found in your trunk. These muscles are the structural center of your body. Think of a baseball swing, a tennis backhand, carrying groceries, lifting objects, even simple movements like sitting or standing. All of these "functional" activities require activation of your core muscles so you can transfer power to your arms and legs from a solid foundation, while stabilizing your body.

It's important to add that poor posture compromises your core. Hunching over a desk, slouching in a chair, or walking around sloop-shouldered makes core muscles slack and will create a bulging belly. But correcting poor posture, along with exercises to retrain your core, will strengthen this part of your body and help you sculpt flat abs. Thus, with strong core muscles:

Your posture is better. • You'll have a healthy, limber spine.

• You'll have a leaner, more sculpted look.

• You'll have better balance.

• Your body will react faster.

• You'll become stronger, more agile, and more flexible.

• You'll be less susceptible to many accidental and overuse injuries.

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