Thursday 19 July 2018

Karl Henry: Here's an easy way to work on your core while brushing your teeth

Balancing act: Do the flamingo to improve your core
Balancing act: Do the flamingo to improve your core
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Do you know that you can slow down the ageing process, the effects of ageing and the risks of ageing by improving the power and strength of your core? Sounds a bit simple, doesn’t it? And don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest to you that you need to do lots and lots of yoga or Pilates, though they certainly will help. No, I am talking about doing some simple swaps, some simple challenges during your day, making it part of what you do, in order to get your body working that little bit harder.

As we age, our body loses muscle mass and gains body fat, your metabolism slows down and your joints become affected by wear and tear. Your brain begins to waste away and degenerate unless you challenge and stimulate it. The body is so amazing, something we take for granted — it is incredible at adapting to the environment that it’s placed in...

  • Healthy environment = healthy body
  • Unhealthy environment = unhealthy body
  • Active environment = strong body
  • Inactive environment = weak body
  • Active environment = younger body and mind
  • Inactive environment = older body and mind

Pretty simple, isn’t it? Yet it’s something we seriously neglect when we make the environment we spend time in as sedentary as possible. This really struck me a few weeks ago when travelling through an airport. When we got off the plane, there was an enormous queue to use the escalator to go to the baggage pick up, yet there was a stairs directly beside it which four people had decided to tackle. Everyone else just stood in the queue.

Then there was a travelator at the top which you could take or you could walk beside it — again, same queue for the travelator. If it wasn’t true, it would be funny.

There is a gym in Dublin for which people queue to get into the car park for up to 30 minutes at a time to go inside and exercise despite the fact that there is a second car park with free spaces 50 metres up the road!

So how does all this relate to your core? By making life sedentary, your core does less work, your balance is affected, your posture, your risk of back issues and as you age, your risk of trips and falls increases. So what I am proposing is that you add some of these simple challenges into your day...

  • Do the Flamingo: Easy, when you’re brushing your teeth. I want you to stand on one leg and alternate your legs every evening. If it gets too easy then try to close your eyes while doing it. If you find it hard, focus on a fixed point in front of you: it will get easier, I promise. Even if at first you need to take breaks, just build it up slowly and you will get better.
  • Stand more: Standing and core health/overall health go hand in hand. The more you stand, the healthier you are. Try to stand in work, stand on the train or the bus — basically try and stand anywhere you can, even if it’s tough at first, just build it up gradually.
  • Ditch the lifts or the escalators: I am always talking about this one, simple and effective, it is a no-brainer. Get those legs moving and heart pumping and you will see the benefits.
  • Have more sex: Sex is not only pleasurable, it is good for the body, the muscles, the core — basically everything! Low mood or libido affecting your sex drive? Then you need to exercise, to move more and to talk more about whatever is stressing you out.
  • Lift more: Obviously resistance exercise is the way to go here. And by that I mean lifting a weight or some body-weight resistance training. But just lifting more during the day can help too — a shopping bag, for example, can be a great way to work the body.
  • Park further away: Whenever you need to park somewhere, park as far away as possible and walk the rest of the way.
  • Pull your belly button into your spine: Focus the core by simply pulling your belly button into your spine as you walk, talk, sit, drive or stand. This instantly improves your posture and helps you strengthen your core pretty fast.

More core, more often, more health!

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