We keep hearing about the importance of weight bearing exercises, in particular, as we age. The popularity of bodyweight exercises is rapidly gaining. Why, you might wonder? There is practicality and ease in using what you already own and carry around with you, YOU!
Maintaining a strong and healthy core is essential. These series of muscles are located in your midsection, and are used almost every time you MOVE. Core muscles aid the transfer of force from one limb to another. They provide assistance to the muscles in your legs and arms. In effect, having a solid strong core yields big improvements in your ability to move and keep moving.
Not to take a backseat in importance, your abdominal muscles (part of your core) support your back and spinal column. Taking time to strengthen this set of muscles advances overall back health. I don’t know about all of you Kuel Women out there, but I personally know several people of a ‘certain age’ that struggle with chronic back pain.
Enter Planks! Planks are one of the most effective exercises out there. First, they don’t take much time. Ever try to plank for ten or twenty minutes? Second, they don’t take much room. All you need is a bit of floor space.
Even if you start at 15 seconds a pop, who cares? If you manage three times over the course of the day; you’ve planked for 45 seconds. Every few days you can add five or ten seconds; ideally getting to a minute. Let me re-iterate…WHO CARES how long this may take. What’s critical here is that you are doing SOMETHING to improve the stability of your body and your overall health.
What should you expect if you start planking everyday.
Improve core definition and performance.
Planks engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
- increased ability to lift heavier weights – this may mean less straining in carrying heavy grocery bags or picking up your grandchild
- improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
- a supported back and a strong, shapely butt.
Reduce back pain.
When done properly, planking requires minimal movement and contracts all the layers of the abdominal fascia – thereby strengthening your core. A stronger core yields a healthier, pain-free back.
Improve your posture.
Good posture allows muscles to work more efficiently. You can prevent muscle fatigue and strain when your back and spine are in alignment. Issues related to overuse or back pain can be reduced. And, let’s face it you look BETTER and more confident when you stand up straight.
Increase your balance.
Strong abdominal muscles are needed to gracefully stand on one leg for an extended period of time. While it may seem silly; why do you need to stand on one leg? Don’t most of us have two? It’s not the actual act of standing on one leg that is important; that’s just the test of our balance. Balance is important for walking and going up and down the stairs. Activities we ‘take for granted’. Maintaining good balance as we age helps keep us vertical. Falling is a bad idea.
Increase your flexibility.
Flexibility is required to easily perform everyday activities. Activities such as; getting out of bed, lifting grocery bags, and reaching down to pick something up off the floor all require a degree of flexibility. Sadly, most of us lose flexibility as we age. I know personally the days of splits are behind me. Planking expands and stretches your shoulders, shoulder blades, hamstrings, toes and arches of your feet, helping maintain added flexibility.
Sold on PLANKING EVERYDAY?
How do you do it?
- Get into pushup position on the floor.
- Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
- Keep your body straight and rigid. Don’t stick your butt in the air or drop it down toward the floor.
- Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
- Hold the position for as long as you can.
Still confused? Hit play.