Core exercise trains 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. – Mayo Clinic
Regarding physical appearance, perhaps nothing is more “in demand” than strong abdominals. “Washboard abs” motivate countless gymgoers to sweat through an endless number of crunches, sit-ups, ab twists, planks, leg lifts, scissor kicks, and so forth.
Besides a great-looking abdominal physique, there are plenty of other reasons to do an ab workout every day. Here, we present 5 solid reasons to do an ab workout each day. We’ll also provide some great ab workout ideas that require nothing more than a mat and some discipline.
So why focus on those ab muscles? Here are five good reasons:
#1 Achieve good balance
Having good balance sounds a tad boring on the surface, but there are great reasons to achieve and maintain physical symmetry.
First, balance is key to all functional movement; whether we’re walking, sitting, laying down, running, and so forth. Things that we do without thinking – getting out of our car, and walking up some stairs, for example – requires balance.
Second, balance is inextricably linked to posture. “Postural equilibrium” prevents us from “slouching” over our desks, disproportionately shifting our weight, and from injuring certain body parts.
Third, good balance is essential to any fitness regimen. Weight training, cardio workouts, yoga, stretching… you name it; proper balance can assist with any training endeavor.
#2 Improve agility
Agility is the physical capability to move quickly and easily. In a seemingly non-stop, rush-driven society, able agility can significantly benefit both our physical and mental health.
Being agile also “helps performance in activities that require you to change direction quickly while keeping balance, strength, speed, and body control.” Though this may sound like something that applies only to athletes, we all require balance, strength, speed, and body control – if for no other reason than to be prepared for an emergency.
A strong core improves agility by strengthening the torso and facilitating exhalation of air from the lungs; it also stabilizes the spine and compresses the internal organs.
#3 Feel better
What better possible feeling than taking a couple of inches off of your waist size? Maybe you’ll be able to fit into those jeans that have been conveniently placed in a drawer somewhere.
Mentally, of course, you’ll feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment – and deservedly so. Abdominal fat is notoriously difficult to shred; you’ll be glad that extra pudge is gone.
#4 Live longer
In a comprehensive analysis involving 650,000 adults, waist circumference was determined “an important number when looking at [individual] health and longevity.”
A larger waist increases the risk of obesity-related disorders, including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes.
The data analyzed by Mayo Clinic researchers yielded the following conclusions:
– Men with a max waist circumference of 43 inches were at a 52 percent greater chance of death than men with the average 37-inch waist.
– Women with a max 37-inch waist were at an 80 percent higher risk of death than women with the average 27.5-inch waist.
– The difference in life expectancy for approximately 3 years for men and about 5 years for women.
To measure your waist circumference, here are the steps (you’ll need a measuring tape):
– Locate either hip bone on the abdomen.
– Place the starting end of the measuring tape on the abovementioned region; holding it snug.
– Wrap the measuring tape around your abdomen, keeping the tape parallel, and adjoin it with the starting end. Relax, exhale, and read the measurement – this is your waist circumference.
#5 Core exercises can be done anywhere
One of the best things about ab workouts is that they can be done anywhere. No special, expensive equipment necessary; no gym membership required.
Any movement that engages the abdominals and back muscles in coordination is considered a core exercise. Free weights can be used, for example, to stabilize your upper body and strengthen core muscles.
Though you can do ab workouts anywhere at any time with no equipment, investing in a good exercise mat is a good idea. Lying flat on a hard floor is not exactly comfortable – something that will become quickly apparent when doing some tough core activities. Search online for some deals, and you should be able to pick up a decent mat for around $20.
Good ab workouts
Here are three effective ab exercises to get started. You’ll need nothing more than an optional (but recommended) mat:
This is a traditional and efficient core exercise. (a) Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keeping your back in a neutral position, tighten your abdominal muscles. (b) Lift your hips off the floor until they are level with your knees and shoulders. (c) Hold the position as long as possible without breaking form.
(a) Lie face-up on the floor with your legs straight and arms at your sides. (b) In one motion, swiftly lift your torso into an upright position while pulling your knees to your chest (keep your arms straight.) (c) Lower yourself back into the starting position. Repeat.
(3) Scissor kicks
Another traditional and efficient ab exercise that’ll get you sweaty. (a) Lie on your back with legs extended in front of you, arms by your side and palms down. (b) Knees slightly bent, raise your legs off the ground about 6 inches – this is your starting position. (c) Maintaining this position, lift one leg upward until it is at a 45-degree angle, with your tie pointing upwards. (d) Lower the raised leg while raising the lowered leg to 45 degrees. Keep the heels at least 6 inches off the ground at all times. Repeat.