Some people think that the only reason to do ab exercises is to look good in a bathing suit. However, there are many health benefits to abdominal exercises that go beyond looks.
Here is a concrete list of eight real reasons why you should really work your core:
1. Better balance
Since your core is the main thing you use when you try to balance yourself, ab exercises can help improve this immensely. As UC Berkley’s School of Public Health states, your core includes muscles in your low back, hips, and your abdomen. However, by doing ab exercises more often, you help stabilize and improve these other muscles as well as your spine and pelvis. This keeps your body strong and balanced, especially when you encounter uneven surfaces.
2. Less low back pain
For similar reasons listed above, ab exercises decrease lower back pain. This is because a stronger core takes some of the pressure off of your low back. Core muscles, especially the abs, are the best part of the body to balance out this pain.
It makes sense if you think about the layout of the human body. In order for anyone or anything to achieve balance, there must be an even exertion from two different sides. Since your ab muscles are in the front of the body and your back muscles are in the back, strengthening weaker abs will help your body balance out. As a result, it can relieve pain in your back that was probably caused by a weaker core.
3. Better posture
Along with a strong core relieving lower back pain, it helps you maintain better posture. If you have ever been told to sit or stand up straight for long periods of time, your body probably got tired. This is normal because exercising good posture actually takes a lot of core strength. By doing more ab exercises, you can strengthen your belly and practice better posture with less effort.
This, in turn, will help your low back pain as well.
4. Easier workouts
The stronger your core is, the easier or longer you will be able to workout. This makes sense, especially for high exertion sports like running, swimming, and biking. Strong abs will keep your body from cramping easily and falling into bad posture during the workout.
As UC Berkley’s School of Public Health states, studies show you will have “greater efficiency in movement” with strong abdominal muscles. This can help in other sports and even weightlifting. It can increase your endurance as well as your overall strength and ability to move.
5. Fewer injuries
Another benefit to doing ab exercises is the decreased likelihood of injuries. For example, a study was done by the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, which finds injured athletes to have weaker core muscles than uninjured athletes.
Strong abs help avoid injuries in the abdominal area as well as other parts of the body. If you trip and catch yourself with a strong balance that comes from a strong core, you can avoid many serious injuries in the ankle region, for example. This is because your abs are a part of your core, which is just that—the core and most important component of your body.
6. Faster digestion
While ab exercises do not burn fat like cardio does, they can help improve your digestion. This is especially true for some yoga-like ab exercises such as variations of the plank, push-ups, and mountain climbers.
While you are mainly working your ab and core muscles in these exercises, your entire body is engaged. This can help speed up your digestive system, especially if you do them for longer than 5 minutes. It can even burn a few calories, but not as many as other workouts.
7. Quicker post-pregnancy recovery
As your core gets stronger, so does your stomach’s bounce back time. Women often notice a physical change in appearance in their abdominal region that comes from it being stretched out for nine months. This can also be due to weight gain. However, performing a daily core regimen before and during pregnancy can help you get back your flat stomach after delivery. It makes sense because if you don’t keep up that ab strength, then it will be harder and take longer to get back. Doing ab exercises is perfectly safe during pregnancy as long as you perform these designated ones.
8. Better overall mobility
Lastly, strong ab muscles can help your overall health. With more strength, you will want and be able to perform more daily tasks and outdoor activities. While these might not qualify as exercise, they can certainly help keep you healthy and active.
If a strong core encourages you to move around, then you are less likely to feel tired on a daily basis unless you perform hard, unusual activities. Even Harvard Health mentions things like twisting, mopping the floor, and standing as things that require strong core muscles. If not, you risk hurting yourself or being overly tired and sore.
How to start doing ab exercises:
Take it slow. Start with things like a simple plank or crunch exercise. However, it is important to look up the proper posture for these and all ab exercises, especially when first starting out. Make sure you have your neck, back, and upper arms relaxed and do not put them in uncomfortable positions to complete the exercise. If needed, perform easier variations of ab exercises like a modified plank where you lower your knees to the ground.
To see more ab exercises, click here.