A friend of mine was getting a massage recently and asked her massage therapist if she had any ideas about how to alleviate the frequent discomfort she experiences around her hips. The therapist dug in and told her that she could feel evidence that her posture was affecting her hips, and to work on those abs.
Core strength is one of the things you’ll hear me (and most fitness instructors or trainers) touting the importance of, and it’s something you can be working on any time. Just take a look at what your abs are doing right now. How are they contributing to your good posture? If you sit up straight at your desk, how long does it take before your abs are fatigued?
Here are a few simple things you can do to improve your core strength, posture and ab definition:
- Check your posture at regular intervals. There are a lot of wearable fitness devices that will give you regular reminders to get up and walk around, and you can use those (if you have one) or timers on your phone or watch to check your posture. When you check in, sit up! Make an effort to hold it. Ideally you’ll work your way up to being able to do it all the time. (Wild!)
- Do planks! Planks are great for all-around core strength. Mix it up with plank positions (plain, side, alternating sides, etc.) for increasing durations. Doing this for a few minutes a day—literally fewer than 10 minutes a day—will go a long way.
- Get off balance. Any balance-based activity engages your core and builds strength throughout that region. This can be trading in your desk chair for a balance ball, practicing tree pose during your “posture breaks,” pretending you’re a wire-walker any time you’re walking down a sidewalk with a curb you can balance on or taking up the unicycle (if you’re feeling extreme).
What this will do for you in the immediate sense is make you stronger and potentially slimmer. It should also help you feel less fatigued at the end of the day as your body begins to support you better while you go about your business. In the long-term, though, it can help keep you strong and straight as you age. It will alleviate pressure on your neck, spine and legs that will keep you spry after you get that AARP invitation. And if you need help, I’ll record a little audio blurb you can use as your alarm that says “What are your abs doing right now?”