It is important to understand how to make your core strong. The last couple articles I discussed the importance of a strong core. This article will discuss functional exercise and lifestyle as a means to create the stability and strength you need to improve the health of your spine and nerve system.
A quick online search can lead to confusion regarding what to do to make your core strong. Some resources say focus on the abs. Others say squats and dead lifts. Planks. Pushups…the list goes on. How do you know what is right? The answer: they are all right but most folks look at them wrong. If we look at exercise through the right lens we will have the clearest picture of what is right.
Most people go to a gym to improve the way they look. Some will say that it’s about their health or their strength and there may be some truth to that but the bottom line is that we all look at ourselves in the mirror naked. This is ok to do as long as you attempt to achieve your optimal look through the right means. Sometimes our gym activities are not the right means.
One of my favorite pictures I have of my youth is when I was on vacation, pulling a canoe up a river in Yellowstone National Park. I was around 17 years old and I had abs of steel and the picture proves it. When I was 17 I didn’t even realize I looked that good. I just lived an active lifestyle full of functional exercise and the result was awesomeness. (Bragging only a little-and if you were wondering, the picture shown is NOT me)
What was my active lifestyle? I grew up on a farm. Rarely was there a day that I did not do significant lifting of heavy things. All summer long I hauled bales of hay, dug ditches, made fences, worked in the garden, flood irrigated hay fields, milked cows, walked and ran miles, and rode my bike for commuting. During the winter months I took care of the animals, carried bales of hay, split wood and hauled it into the house so that we would not freeze to death and a host of other chores that made my family’s life livable. I also wrestled and spent as much time as possible on a snowmobile. I didn’t watch TV and I almost never played video games.
My active lifestyle filled with functional movement helped to not only sculpt a body that I could be proud of but it helped to create a very healthy and strong core. On the other hand, one of the most important lessons I learned while growing up on a farm was to never have one. Realistically, most reading this will not have the benefit of life’s necessities forcing us to exercise functionally as I did as a youth.
The fact is our ancestors used functional movement exercise in order to stay alive and we simply are not forced to live like that so most of us don’t.
We would do well to look at our exercise habits through the lens of our ancestors. Is going to a gym and hopping on a treadmill, an elliptical machine, doing biceps curls, and pretty much any machine in the gym functional? If it is important for you to make your core strong, think of your overall activities and your exercise in the gym and attempt to make it as functional as possible.