The summer may be over – no more bikini and beach time! – but that doesn’t mean your fitness routine has to take a back seat. In cooler weather, it can actually be easier and more fun to stay active. Gone are the days of feeling gross and sweaty in humid temperatures, and here are the days of fresh breezes and sunny afternoons.
In other words, you can stay fit no matter what time of year. There are no excuses!
Whether you are just starting a new fitness routine or you’re hoping to take your workouts to another level, having a set of strong ab muscles can assist many activities. If you core muscles are strong, you may find it easier to balance, support your back when running or cycling, ease into yoga poses with fewer clunky movements and up your dance game It is entirely possible to strengthen your core without doing the dreaded crunches, and all you need is some comfortable floor space, a watch with an alarm and some dedication.
Do the plank
Holding a plank pose is a quick and easy way to tone and work abdominal muscles. Position yourself as if you were at the top of a pushup with your hands directly under your shoulders. Pull in your tummy, keep your shoulders sliding down your back and away from your ears, and keep your neck long by looking at a spot a little forward of both your hands. Make sure your glutes are engaged, and imagine your back like one long piece of wood…or, a plank. Set your watch alarm and try to hold for 30 seconds to begin. Work up to longer times as your endurance builds.
Use an exercise ball
Those not into strength training can just grab an exercise ball and sit while watching Netflix or hopping online. The ball’s lack of stability will help you sit up straighter, thereby tightening your core muscles. Prefer more of a workout? Popsugar suggested taking the same exercise ball and lying flat on your back, pushing away the floor with your lower back and keeping it straight and long. Take the ball over your chest, extending your feet towards the ceiling. Bring the ball forward with your arms, keeping your back on the floor, and grab it between your feet, lowering the ball and your legs to where it feels comfortable. Then, bring your feet back up and grasp the ball with your hands. Repeat for 10 rounds at first, then add five more incrementally as you feel stronger.
Of course, hiking can be a great all-body toner and wonderful workout in nature, but focusing on your core will involve some mat work. Get into a plank position, Self magazine advised, and bring your right knee under your torso, toes off the ground. Then bring your leg back to its starting point. Repeat with your left leg. For a more cardio-heavy workout, bring your knees up and back rapidly, as if you were running in the air. To really crunch that core, another move you could do is bring each leg up slowly and engage your abdominal muscles, holding your leg up for the count of 10.
For an added boost to a run, walk or bike ride add some of these core moves after your activity. If you want to just strengthen up a bit in your own time, go for it! Your endurance and posture may thank you for some added core muscle – and maybe those cute jeans will be a little looser in the waist.
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