How should core work fit into your overall exercise plan?

Healthbeat

Your core muscles are the sturdy link between your lower body and upper body. Every move you make starts in your core or transfers through it. So, a weak or tight core can translate into less power from your arms and legs.

It's well worth including core work in your exercise plan. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following well-rounded plan:

  • At least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or one-and-a-quarter hours (75 minutes) of vigorous activity per week, or an equivalent combination of the two. (During moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, you can talk, but not sing; during vigorous activity, such as running, you can't say more than a few words without needing to catch your breath.)
  • Strength-training sessions twice a week for all major muscle groups, including your core.
  • Balance exercises.

Core work falls under the second and third categories: strength training and enhancing balance.

Because many traditional strength training routines don't include core work, your core muscles may not be ready for a strenuous workout right away. A core exercise routine that lets you ease into this training — such as the ones described in our Special Health Report Gentle Core Exercises — will allow you to make progress safely.

For more details on exercise plans that can help you get started with improving your core strength, buy Gentle Core Exercises, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.