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Quick! As fast as you can, when I say the term, “core exercise,” what’s the first exercise that pops into your head?
Okay, now what was it? My guess… probably a sit-up, or a curl-up, or some sort of crunchie thing you do down on the ground, am I right? Sure, those are effective ab strengthening exercises, BUT! Here’s where we can get in trouble with those:
When you are an exercise beginner, it is critical to first achieve core stability to protect the spine and surrounding muscles. If you jump right into those crunchy, dynamic movements without first building up stability, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury and could hurt your back. The exercises below will show you how to train your core stability, so you can build up strength and protection for your very precious spine, without doing a single (and potentially dangerous) crunch.
But let’s back up, because first let’s make some sense out of what the “core” actually is. Many people think we’re talking about your stomach muscles, and we are. But, the core is so much more than that. The core also includes your back, your glutes, and your pelvic muscles. Core exercises train all these groups to work in harmony, and protect you from common problems like poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Having a strong core makes life easier in a million different ways. You’ll have better balance and stability, and you’ll move more efficiently. From reaching down to attach the RV sewer hose to reaching up to deploy the manual awning, with a strong core, daily living tasks in an RV are much easier.
Below are some safe and effective core stability exercises geared for beginners or for older adults. The best part, they’re all standing exercises, so if you have difficulty getting down to the floor, no worries. But remember, change doesn’t happen overnight, and only doing these on occasion won’t build any strength. Do these often, and consistently, and stick to it. Over time you WILL start noticing improvements, I promise.
Stand with your back against a wall, and your feet about a foot or two away from the wall. Pull your hips away from the wall (keep your palms against your sides) as you squeeze your glutes and abs tightly. Hold the bridge for 10 seconds, and then rest a few seconds. Repeat that 4-6 times.
Stand with your elbows against a wall, and your feet as far from the wall as you can safely go. Position your body so that you are in a straight line. Your hips should NOT be raised up or lowered from straight. Ask someone to check that you’re straight, because it’s hard to tell without a mirror (or go do this near a mirror!). Hold the plank for 10 seconds, and then rest a few seconds before repeating 4-6 times.
Stand sideways to the wall with one elbow against it, and your feet as far from the wall as you can safely get them. Place your outer hand behind your head. Lift your outer leg an inch off the ground, or allow the big toe to touch floor without any weight on it…all weight stays on inside leg. Tighten your stomach (this is important, really make sure to focus on activating your core) and hold the pose for 10 seconds, and then repeat on the other side. Do this 4-6 times.
Stand with your back against a wall. Deeply and loudly exhale. When you think you’ve gotten out all the air, exhale forcefully 5 more quick pants. This one might seem simple, but don’t write this one off! It’s an incredibly effective way to work the deep core muscles, and if you only could do one of these, I’d hope it would be this one. After you’ve done one repetition of the deep exhale followed by the 5 quick exhale pants, rest and breathe easily for a few normal breaths. Repeat this 4-6 times. Be careful with this one, go slowly, and make sure to take your time resting between repetitions.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about these! I’d also love to hear your own personal accounts and what you’re doing to stay fit and keep your core strong on the road. Staying fit and healthy can be a really hard struggle; especially for us RVers who travel so much it’s hard to form habits. But you can do it.