Is a strong core important only for getting 6-pack abdominal muscles? No way! Building your core muscular strength helps build core energy and a whole lot more. These central muscles, while mainly mentioned in topics related to pilates and other physical activities, have a connection to many important areas of your health outside of fitness. Lets cover each area of health that is boosted when you focus on increasing core strength.
What is the core? Your core is located around the area of your belly button, and it’s the section of your abdomen that extends outward when you breathe in deeply, eat a full meal, or feel bloated. The abdominal core is covered with muscles and houses important organs such as part of the digestive system and its immune system. It is also bordered by the diaphragm (used for breathing), the pelvis, and the low back.
Core strength offers stability to your whole frame, improves balance, and supports the low back. When the core area feels weak, your body may experience a snowball of adverse physiological reactions. First off, core weakness can contribute to stagnation in circulation. In the body, muscular tone helps blood circulate more effectively once it’s pumped from your heart. Core muscles are no exception, and when your core is strong you can notice an improvement in overall circulation.
Second, core stability promotes healthier digestion. The digestive system contains a lot of blood vessels and when the core area is stagnant, the whole digestive system may feel more sluggish too. You may see increased bloating, discomfort, and indigestion associated with meals. The digestive system also contains a large and essential part of the immune system. Core strength can help support your body’s immunity too as it rounds out healthy digestion and circulation.
Core strength also supports your low back, an area that can easily develop knots and tension if your core abdominal muscles feel weak. Core muscles help you stand tall and upright, improving your overall posture. When the muscles don’t see enough action (movement and strengthening), this can promote more slouching in the body and place a burden on your low back. Toning the area back up can help relieve low back pain and tension.
The list of benefits from a strong core is numerous! Because the diaphragm is located near the core, core strength promotes deeper and higher quality breathing. Because the pelvis is located near the core, women may find relief from cramps and PMS around the menstrual cycle after strengthening core muscles. Whole body strength and stamina can improve for men and women, making it easier to exercise in a healthy and comfortable way.
Finally, the physical balance that comes from supporting your core can extend to your mental-emotional health as well. Physical balance promotes a sense of calm, steadiness, and support. All of these benefits, once felt in your physical health, are free to travel to your mental-emotional health and coping as well.
If there is a case to be made for strengthening your core, your body will show you all the health benefits that help support it! If you’re feeling some slackness in this area, gradually practice balancing exercises such as pilates, yoga, or any other preferred core strengthening such as dance. Focus on your breathing, and enjoy the relaxation that comes from the movement. And enjoy the healthy benefits you’ll see in your body!