The core muscles are the large muscle groups of the back, abdomen, hips and pelvis. The core muscles stabilize us during movement and help us to handle the physical demands of daily life -- standing ,sitting, picking up children, carrying groceries or bending down to pet the dog. Peggy Brill, a physical therapist and author of “The Core Program,” says, "Both the neck and lower back are dependent on the core muscles to stabilize the spine so that all the vertebral segments align in a way that does not compress the nerves that pass through them. When nerves are compressed, they can't deliver full electrical impulses to the muscles. When that happens the muscles can't work as they should. Weakness and pain are the result." I always include core exercises as part of a weight-training work-out.

Here are some exercises to strengthen the core:

1) Lie on a physio ball( a large exercise ball) with your lower back supported (that is, touching the ball) and with your hands gently supporting your head. Keep your chin up so as not to strain the neck. Do a set of 5 to 15 sit-ups, while exhaling on the lift. If you’re able, repeat the exercise two more times.

2) Again. using the physioball, lie with your back arching over the ball until your hands almost touch the floor. You might want to have a partner help stablize the ball. This exercise is a back strengthener and helps stretch the opposing muscle group...the abdominals.

3) When you're ready to cool down, lie supine on the floor, bring both knees to the chest, hold for 30 seconds. Then drop your knees to one side, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Bring your knees back to the chest to realign your spine and then stretch out your legs. This exercise stretches out the lower back.

Always focus on tightening your abdominal muscles during each exercise.

Tags:Boomers Exercise Falls Prevention

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Sibyl Adams, Seniority Matters’ featured fitness blogger, has spent three decades in the health and fitness field. She began competing in local body building events in 1980, and by 1983, she was second in her weight class in the International Arm Wresting Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica. Sibyl remained active in the body-building scene for more than a decade, while also teaching aerobics and running races. She retired from body building in 1990, but continued running competitively until 2004, when she suffered an ankle injury.

Today, Sibyl works full-time as a personal fitness trainer and is president of her own company, A Personal Touch Fitness. She is a certified Reiki master, a National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) Certified Trainer, and is currently pursuing a certification in yoga. She enjoys swimming, power-walking and playing with her grandchildren.

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