Have you ever sat all day long at your desk only to go home feeling so exhausted that you had to sit on your couch to recover from the full days’ sit sesh? Yeah, I know. Me too, like all the time. As it turns out, this is killing me--not metaphorically, but truly killing me.
It’s not a shock that a sedentary lifestyle is not at all healthy. So chickens, let’s stand up to sitting down. Seriously, the Mayo Clinic reports people who sit for four hours a day have a 50% increased chance of dying from just any cause. Dying from just absolutely ANYTHING just doubled up. Uh, what? No thanks.
The World Health Organization recommends adult get a minimum of 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. So, thank you, yes, I will, especially since there are so many benefits from exercise. To make sure I was starting off with a good base, I spoke with friend, fitness professional, and Chicago’s resident hot bod Betina Gozo about abdominal exercises that will strengthen my core. She offered great advice and demonstrated a few exercises to work on.
Let’s get Ab Fab, dahlings.
The Superman is a great exercise to strengthen not only your core, but also your lower back muscles so your entire trunk can work and move together as one. Building up the muscles in your abdominals and lower back will improve posture while sitting and standing, reducing risk of back pain in the future.
Start by lying face down on the ground, your legs spread slightly further than hip width apart and your arms spread out above your head, like you’re making a snow angel face down. On the inhale lift your arms and legs off the ground, squeezing your glutes, hold for three seconds and exhale down.
This exercise activates your core, building mid-strength and practicing balance. Your ab muscles are crucial to your body’s overall balance and the coordination with your limbs.
Start in tabletop position, flat back, and imagine your belly button pulling to your spine. On the inhale, extend opposite arm and leg from tabletop, like a cartoon pointer dog who found a duck. On the exhale, bring opposite elbow in to meet your opposite knee, bracing your core. Then, inhale back to extension, squeezing your glutes.
This oldie but goodie was covered in the desk exercises article with Betina, as well, but it's such an important classic that I'll include a reminder. On the ground make certain your elbows are beneath your shoulders and your chin is lifted off your chest. Keep your eyes focused in front of your fists, so you aren’t tempted to collapse your neck and fold in. Pull back through your heels and keep your core braced. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on how challenging you want to make the exercise.
The difficult relative of the classic plank, the side plank challenges your obliques and really tests your balance. Start in plank, then shift your weight to your right arm and turn your body open so your front is no longer facing the ground, but towards the wall. You can do variations on this exercise depending on the level you're at or how you feel on a given day. You may take a knee to help with balance or increase the difficulty by extending both legs, but keeping both feet on the ground. Or even more challenging is stacking one foot on top of the other. You can hold your side plank for 30 to 60 seconds.
Betina recommends completing these exercises 15 times each for three rounds to really strengthen and build your core muscles. And in Betina I trust--she’s got a killer body and those abs speak for themselves. It’s important to challenge yourself physically and mentally to create a strong core and body which will have lasting positive health benefits.
- What are some of your favorite exercises?
- Do you have a sit-down life like me?
- Also, Betina’s getting married in a few weeks, you guys! Send her a quick congrats!