Your core is made up of the muscles which support and stabilise your trunk and spine. These muscles include those in the abdomen, back, hips and pelvis. Having a strong core will encourage good posture and reduce the chances of suffering from lower back problems.
Every movement you make, and in particular every lifting movement performed, should be carried out with the core engaged. Your core muscles are designed to work over long periods of time, however, if your core muscles are weak then it causes the surrounding muscle groups to take over the workload, often resulting in pain or injury. A strong core will also improve balance and functional strength. Your core muscles will not strengthen unless you specifically start practising good posture and performing specific exercises the develop core activation.
Pilates is a form of exercise which actively focuses on engaging your core muscles in every movement and is a beneficial form of exercise for everyone. The British Heart Foundation highlights some Pilates exercises to perform at home and there are many classes for different levels of abilities. ACSM highlights core exercises which can be performed in a vertical position http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/acsm-in-the-news/2011/08/01/swap-the-sit-ups-effective-vertical-core-exercises
There are many other core exercises which can be performed whilst standing, seated or laying down with little to no movement and can progress onto more challenging exercises. Some examples are:
- Leg Lifts
- Seated Swiss Ball Exercises
Remember, to strengthen the core muscles you have to train your core muscles!