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    Health and fitness folks talk a lot about strengthening our cores. Just what is that? Our core is our stomach, back, hips and pelvis and this part of the body is key to important health issues for seniors.

Many seniors have decreased strength, balance and coordination as they age. This increases the risk of falls and other injuries. So the fitness gurus are right—we need to pay attention to exercises that will build strength in the core of our bodies.

Once the core is stronger we’ll enjoy the benefits of better posture, a decreased risk of falling, a greater degree of movement and improved stability and balance. Sound good?

Here are some simple exercises to build core strength:

The Hip Raise (also known as the bridge.)

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten stomach muscles. Raise your hips until they are aligned with knees and shoulders. Hold for a count of three, lower and repeat 5-10 times.

The Superman

Lie on your stomach with a rolled towel under hips for support of lower back. Tighten abdominals then raise right arm two to three inches off the ground. Hold for a count of three. Lower and repeat with left arm, then right leg and left leg.

The Leg Lift

Lying on your back with arms at your side, tighten abdominals and lift both legs to ninety degrees. Slowly lower the legs counting to five.

Side Bends

Place feet at shoulder width. Do this exercise with or without weights in hand. Breathe in as you bend as far as you can to one side. Exhale as you return to an upright position.

The Bicycle

Laying on your back, bend your knees with feet flat on floor. Place hands behind head      and raise up. Rotate legs in a circular motion as if riding a bicycle. Cycle for a count of ten, rest and repeat.

The Knee Fold Tuck

Sit tall with hands on the floor, knees bent and squeezing a soft ball between them. Lift the knees 8-12 inches, extend arms and pull knees toward the shoulders. Hold for a count of three and return to starting position.

The Circle Plank

Begin in the plank position (as if ready for a pushup.)Tighten abdominals, then pull the right knee in and trace a circle on the floor in the clockwise direction. Repeat five times and switch legs.

Do these exercises for about twenty minutes three times a week. You’ll see an improvement in toned muscles and an increased strength in the core of your body. And don’t forget your cardio workouts, walking, swimming or another exercise that raises your heart rate several times a week.

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Healthy Living