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Of Core Importance

Updated: May 26, 2021

“One killer exercise that's really great is pull-ups with your legs out level. That's my favourite. It's such functional core strength, and that's why I can climb up trees and down vines.” Bear Grylls – Adventurer

What are core exercises?


In short, any exercise that involves engaging your abdominal and back muscles in a coordinated manner would be categorized as a core exercise.


These exercises essentially strengthen, train and synchronize the pelvic, hip, lower back and abdominal muscles. Most of you leading active lifestyles would be cognizant of the fact that core strength is very important. At CoolBlue Adventures, we endorse the enhancement of core strength, as this will foster you being a lot more competent and comfortable if participating in the activities we offer.

For those of you not yet aware, here’s some insight into core exercises and why they are important for your overall health, fitness and quality of life.


The time and commitment dilemma


Firstly, from a practical stand point, core exercises don't require specialized equipment or visits to a gym. If you are consumed by life’s daily commitments, putting aside fifteen minutes a day for some core work, can go a long way when it comes to maintaining your fitness foundation. Here are two quick and easy examples:

Low plank


There are many varieties of this exercise, some more elaborate than others. Most can, however, be done without weights, at your bedside or in your living room. For the standard low plank, lie face down with legs extended. Next, get elbows at 90° angles, keep your palms flat on the floor or form vertical fists with them. Feet should be hip-width apart and elbows should be shoulder-width apart.

Following this, contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body with your forearms remaining on the ground. Keep a straight line from head to heels with shoulders now slightly forward of elbows.


You can start holding this position for as little as 10 seconds at a time. You should build on this over time as your core strength improves. You can also eventually introduce more elaborate versions. These can include: straight arm plank; plank with alternate arm and leg lifts; side plank; plank jacks; plank with pelvis tuck… and the list goes on.


The bridge

For this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in neutral position, i.e. neither arched nor pressed into the floor; avoid tilting your hips. Subsequent to this, tighten your abdominal muscles, then raise your hips off the floor until they are aligned with your knees and shoulders; you can keep your feet flat or raise your heels. Hold the position for as long as you can without breaking your form. Set your time higher as your core strength improves.


Balance and stability


Core exercises improve overall balance and stability. The stronger one’s core, the more stable one’s body will be. Being more stable allows you to move more easily in any direction; this is very useful when participating in outdoor activities which would typically take place over undulating terrain. It even makes it easier to stand in one spot on this type of terrain, without losing your balance. These factors reduce the overall risk of falling and sustaining an unnecessary injury.


Good posture


Weak core muscles are a major contributing factor to slouching. Good posture enhances your physical image and profile while exuding confidence. From a health perspective, good posture lessens wear and tear on the spine and fosters a more efficient breathing pattern. Good posture and holding your form, also helps you gain maximum benefits from exercise routines.


Improved performance and functionality


It would be safe to say that performing well in any physical activity, is highly dependent on having strong core muscles. It even has a positive impact on your daily activities such as walking; reaching for something from a high shelf, looking behind you, sitting at your desk for hours, tying your shoelaces, or even just standing still.


Household chores such as mopping and vacuuming; DIY activities such as hammering, lifting and gardening, all incorporate actions which stem from the core. It is also worth mentioning here, that weak core muscles leave you susceptible to lower back pain and

muscle injuries.


Toned abs

If your objective is to have more defined abdominal muscles, then again, core exercises are key. While it is true that aerobic and cardio activity burns abdominal fat, you will however need to incorporate core exercises to strengthen, define and tone the underlying abdominal muscle.


Optimal fitness results


Gym work and aerobic workouts are part of most fitness programs. However, it is critical to include core exercises in order to achieve optimal results.


Core work through sports and recreational activities


For some of us on the ‘fitness train’, the monotony of home-based or gym-based exercise routines could step in and serve to demotivate. The good news is you can engage in other activities that could boost your enthusiasm levels, while building your fitness and core strength.


Performance in any sporting activity benefits from a strong core, however not all sports directly target the core. Certain sports and recreational activities achieve this by incorporating appropriate dynamic movement. Why not consider these options to inject some fun into your routine and raise your energy levels, while working on your mid-section!


Stand up paddle boarding (SUP)


Stand up paddle boarding is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. “SUPing” requires participants to stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. This activity directly impacts the core while having fun, adventure and enjoying the outdoors.


Kayaking

The posture and paddling movement required while kayaking enhances core strength. This activity is yet another fun way to get your exercise while enjoying natures aquatic environment.


Other Activities


Swimming can also be added to this list. On the more elaborate side of things, activities such as Canyoning and Coasteering can also be an option. These activities incorporate swimming and also require dynamic movements which contribute to enhancing your core.


CoolBlue Adventures offers some of these activities as tour options. For further details, please visit https://www.coolblueadventures.com/

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