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What is Core Strength?

The core is essentially made up of three groups of muscles — the abs, the side muscles (obliques) and a deep layer of muscles which help to support your spine. Building core strength helps you with your balance, prevents back pain and also helps you to perform better in sports and other activities.

Pilates, Yoga and Yogalates — What’s the Difference?

yoga 
  1. Pilates — Pilates consists of a group of exercises that focuses on working out your body’s core. Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth continuous movements, are low-impact, and yet challenging enough to engage even advanced athletes.

  2. Yoga — Strictly speaking, yoga encompasses more than just physical exercise. It also involves meditation, breath control as well as postures to promote relaxation.

    Many of the postures that are practised in yoga, however, do contribute to working out the core. These include the Boat Pose, Cat Pose, Chair Pose and Dolphin Plank Pose, among others[1].

  3. Yogalates — A blend of yoga and Pilates, Yogalates combines the strength training of Pilates with the flexibility training of yoga.

There are many ways to embark on a Pilates, yoga or Yogalates routine — from following instructional videos online at home to joining a class at either your community centre or a private fitness studio.

Simple Exercises to Build Core Strength

Even with an increasing number of affordable classes available today, there are times when you simply prefer to work out in the comfort of your own home. All you need is an exercise mat to get started.

  1. Seated Knee Tucks — While seated on your mat, extend your legs fully and lean backwards. Next, start to bend your legs, bringing your knees towards your chest. Hold the position for a second or two, then extend your legs outwards without touching the mat. Repeat.

seated knee tucks 
  1. Circle Plank — This is an advanced variation of the plank. Starting in plank position, bring in your right knee and draw a circle with it clockwise, then anti-clockwise. Repeat five times then switch legs.

circle plank 
  1. Sliding Pike — You will need a towel to do this exercise. Starting with your body in a plank position and your feet on a folded towel (to help you slide easier), start to draw your legs in, raising your hips towards the sky. Hold for a second then repeat.

Sliding Pike 
  1. Crunches — Crunches are a much better alternative to sit-ups which often pull on your lower back and neck muscles rather than work out your abs. To do a proper crunch, start with your back on the ground and your feet on a chair at a 90-degree angle. Next, cross your hands in front of your chest, and using your ab muscles, sit up until your chest reaches your knees. Remember to exhale as you sit up and inhale as you lie down.

Crunches 

If you do these core exercises regularly, you will soon find that ordinary tasks such as mopping the floor, walking, or even standing for extended periods of time becomes easier. Also, if you’re planning to start exercising regularly, keep up with your core-strengthening exercises, which can do wonders in helping you to achieve your fitness goals.


References

  1. Yoga Journal. (n.d.). Core Yoga Poses [Website].
    Retrieved Sept 2016 from http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/types/core/