Strong to the Core
You may not be a dancer or a professional athlete, but core
strengthening exercises should be part of your fitness
routine. Why are they so important?
“Core strengthening impacts the deep abdominal muscles
that support the spine when we sit, stand, bend over, pick
things up and exercise,” says Ericka Dawydko, a certified
fitness trainer and wellness director at the Livonia Family
YMCA. “The torso is the body’s center of power, so
strengthening that area will lead to better balance and
Here’s the best part: You don’t need a gym membership
or weights to build a strong core. See your doctor for a
checkup before starting an exercise program. Do some light
stretching, then try these exercises at home on a mat or
Lie on your back with your knees bent.
Keep your back in a neutral position (not arched
or pressed on the floor). Don’t tilt your hips.
Tighten your abdominal muscles, and slowly raise
your hips until they are aligned with your knees
Hold this position for three deep breaths, then
slowly return to the start position. Repeat five to
Lie on your stomach with a rolled towel under your
hips to support your back. Place a folded towel
under your forehead. Tighten your abdominal
Raise your right arm off the floor and hold for three
deep breaths. Lower your arm and repeat with your
Raise your right leg off the floor and hold for three
deep breaths. Lower and repeat with your left leg.
Repeat five to 10 times.
When you’re ready for something more challenging, Ericka
recommends trying some exercises with a fitness ball. You
can find one at stores like Dunham’s Sports,® Target or
Walmart for about $15 to $20.
Abdominal crunches with a fitness ball
Sit on the ball with your feet on the floor about
hip-width apart. Keep your back straight, and cross
your arms on your chest.
Tighten your abdominal muscles.
Lean back until you feel the muscles in your
midsection tighten. Hold for three deep breaths.
Return to the start position, and repeat five to 10
“Stick with these core exercises,” Ericka advises. “It takes
about four to eight weeks to see results.”