Maintaining core strength is an important part of mobility and balance, which can prevent fall-related injury. Maillard Howell, owner of CrossFit Prospect Heights and founder of The Beta Way, a holistic wellness program wants you to introduce these five quick core exercises into your daily routine to stay strong at every age.
1. Weighted Marches
- Start standing with your legs and feet hips distance apart. Hold a pair of light dumbbells, medicine ball or a filled gallon water jug.
- Drive your right knee up to about hip height, balancing your weight into your left leg.
- Bring your leg back down and switch legs.
As you perform this exercise, think about contracting your core to help balance the weight and maintain good posture. Start with a fairly light weight and graduate to kettlebells as you grow more comfortable, Howell says.
2. Bench Plank
- Place your hands on a bench, chair or other elevated surface.
- Bring your feet back and straighten your body to form a line with your head, hips and toes.
- Hold this plank for 30 seconds to a minute, maintaining good form.
Avoid hiking or sinking your hips — your body should stay straight. This is a low risk exercise with a high reward, says Howell. Planks will help you become stronger getting to and from the floor, which can be a challenge for older athletes.
3. Wall Sits
- Begin with your back against the wall, legs at hip distance.
- Sink your hips and upper body down against the wall, bending at the knees until they come to 90 degrees.
- Keep your arms at your sides and avoid placing them on your knees for the added support.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, maintaining good form.
Wall sits are excellent for core and knee strength, according to Howell. You can start higher up on the wall and lower into the 90-degree 'chair' position as you become stronger over time. Only go as low as you're comfortable.
4. Flutter Kick Variations
- Lay down on the ground with either a mat or blanket beneath you for added softness.
- Place your arms at your sides for balance.
- Slowly raise your legs and flutter them at a maintainable pace.
- Flutter for 10-second intervals, resting for 15 seconds between intervals.
- Perform this exercise for 3 intervals.
As you grow more comfortable with this exercise, increase the 10-second intervals. If you feel pain in your lower back, add a pillow or padded mat to help maintain the natural curve of your back, Howell says.
5. Unloaded Oblique Twists
- Sit on the ground either on a mat or cushion for added softness. Your knees should be bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Contracting your core and arms out, twist to your right side.
- Tap the ground with both hands before lifting your arms back out and returning to center.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Repeat for 12 to 16 taps total.
"Really focus on reaching as far to the side as you can and touching the ground with both hands," says Howell.