Thursday, February 02, 2012

Suck It In

My doctor offeres evening classes that promote healthy living and discuss health care options. I attended his last class about core strengthening. He invited a Physical Therapist to describe and demonstrate some simple exercises that anyone can do at home, without any equipment, to strengthen their core muscles.

The therapist described core muscles, in layman terms, as those muscles between the chest and thighs including: the abdominals, back, pelvic floor, hips, and transverse abdominis. Many core muscles aren't obvious because they are hidden underneath other muscles. The transverse abdominis is hidden by the rectus abdominis (six-packs). It fits around the hips like a corset and keeps us upright and stabile so we don't wobble around.

All of the demonstrations the therapist gave help strengthen the transverse abdominis along with other muscles. The simplest exercise that can be done by anyone, anytime, anywhere is simply to "suck it in". Don't suck it in all the way - just half way, and do not hold your breath! I have to concentrate on breathing in and out while holding my tummy in. This simple exercise can be done in bed, while standing in line, while driving, while on a walk, or while doing other strength exercises. The exercise not only strengthens the transverse abdominis muscle but also trains the muscle to act on its own voluntarily.

I've gotten very lax with my daily exercises. Days may go by without doing my exercises; it's simple laziness. I still go for walks frequently, but not every day and not far or long enough. I need to come up with strategies to motivate myself to exercise and walk daily, and I need to loose those 20 pounds I gained over the winter.

Did you know the average life span of a black-tailed prairie dog is 7 to 8 years?

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