Healthbeat

The right stuff: These simple items can help you strengthen your core

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You needn't spend a cent on fancy equipment to get a good core workout. Many core exercises rely on your body weight alone. But with the help of some simple equipment, you can diversify and ramp up your workouts.

The following items can help you put a new twist on your core exercises. Most of them can already be found around your house or are available at low cost from a sporting goods store.

  • Chair. Choose a sturdy chair that won't tip over easily. A plain wooden dining chair without arms or heavy padding works well.
  • Mat. Use a nonslip, well-padded mat. Yoga mats are readily available. A thick carpet or towels will do in a pinch.
  • Yoga strap. This is a non-elastic cotton or nylon strap of six feet or longer that helps you position your body properly during certain stretches, or while doing the easier variation of a stretch. Choose a strap with a D-ring or buckle fastener on one end. This allows you to put a loop around your foot or leg and then grasp the other end of the strap.
  • Medicine balls. Similar in size to a soccer ball or basketball, medicine balls come in different weights. Some have a handle on top. A 4-pound to 6-pound medicine ball is a good start for most people.
  • Bosu. A Bosu Balance Trainer is essentially half a stability ball mounted on a heavy rubber platform that holds the ball firmly in place.

For more ways to challenge your core muscles, purchase Core Exercises, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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