Your core is more than just your abdominal muscles, it is a series of complex muscles that includes your diaphragm, pelvic floor and many other muscles in the lower back, hips and abdomen. Core exercises improve your balance and stability, as the core is the prime stabilizer and center of the body. Think of it as the central muscle hub connecting the upper and lower body. By strengthening your core through exercise, you will be less likely to get injured during sports, exercise or other activities. Simply put, a stronger core makes doing everything easier.

Here are five simple core exercises:

  1. The Bridge is a classic static pose. To do the bridge:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles.
  • Raise your hips off the floor until they are aligned with your knees and shoulders.
  • Hold for 3-5 breaths.
  1. The Plank Pose can be found in many workouts and yoga poses. To do the plank:
  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Lower yourself until you are resting on your forearms.
  • Stretch out your legs.
  • Make sure your shoulders and elbows align.
  • Tighten abdominals.
  • Hold as long as you can.
  1. The Side Plank challenges the muscles along the side of your body. To do the side plank:
  • Lie on one side.
  • Raise yourself onto your forearm.
  • Align your shoulders, hips and knees.
  • Tighten abdominals.
  • Hold for 3-5 breaths.
  • Repeat on other side.
  1. Single-Leg Circles utilize small movements to engage your core. To do single-leg circles:
  • Lay down on your back.
  • Extend your right leg straight up and bend your left leg.
  • Make small clockwise circles with your right leg.
  • Repeat 5 times and then 5 times counterclockwise.
  • Switch legs.
  1. The Superman Pose can help strengthen your lower back. To do the superman pose:
  • Lie on your stomach outstretched.
  • Tighten your abdominals.
  • Raise your right arm and right leg off the floor.
  • Hold for 3-5 breaths.
  • Lower and repeat with left side.