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your look ● fitness Common Core No matter what you’re doing your core is probably hard at work, so it’s time to focus on making that your top priority in the New Year I n all likelihood, you’re one of the millions of people who had “Get in Shape” or “Lose Weight” or some other variation or combination of goals on your list of New Year’s resolutions. What’s equally likely is that you are one of the millions that has already given up on your resolution. Maybe you weren’t able to stick to your exercise routine because of an illness, or maybe your body rejected a super aggressive or unrealistic diet plan. But the most common obstacle people cite for not sticking with their workouts is simply: “It’s too hard.” No kidding? It’s supposed to be hard. But how hard is it really supposed to be? If you’re so weak that you struggle through even the most basic workouts, you may have some work to do before you even attempt to develop a routine. For the physically feeble or the morbidly obese, lifting weights or running a mile may seem like a daunting task or an absolute nightmare. This leads to a catch-22 situation: You can’t work out because you are so out of shape and you are so out of shape because you can’t work out. How can you solve this dilemma? The answer is start with Core Training. WHAT IS YOUR CORE? The area of the body, which is commonly referred to as the core, is your midsection and it involves all your muscles in that area, including the front, back, and sides. The core includes the traverse abdominis (TVA), erector spinae, obliques, and your lower lats. These muscles work as stabi- lizers for the entire body. Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. And that saps power from many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core cranks up the power. 116 PAGEANTRY Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core or move through it. If any of your core muscles are weakened, it could result in lower back pain or a protruding waistline. Keeping these core muscles strong can do wonders for your posture and help give you more strength in other exercises like running and walking. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? Keeping your torso strong is important because it is the body’s center of power. Americans are increasingly more and more sedentary. Many of us have office jobs and sit eight to nine hours a day. Add another hour or two of driving time and that adds up to a lot of sitting. Prolonged sitting with- out exercise weakens your midsection. A strong core also en- hances balance and stability. Thus, it can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. In fact, a strong, flexible core underpins almost everything you do: Everyday acts. Bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still—these are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living—bathing or dressing, for exam- ple—call on your core. On-the-job tasks. Jobs that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. But less obvious tasks— like sitting at your desk for hours—engage your core as