How to Get a Younger Body

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Core Training

Age-Erasing Rx: Work your core muscles -- which include your abs, back, and pelvis -- two to three times a week.

The Payoff

Better balance.
You may think that senior citizens are the only ones who have to worry about falls, but if you're over age 25, your balance has already started to decline. Blame your diminishing powers of proprioception, which is your brain's ability to sense where your body is in space, says Vonda Wright, MD, author of Fitness After 40. For example, you might sprain your ankle by stepping in a pothole because your brain failed to "tell" your body how to navigate around it.

A healthy back.
Wimpy core muscles make you susceptible to several types of injuries, including one of the most common: lower-back pain, which typically occurs in your 30s and 40s. Considering that the lower back bears all the weight of your torso, it's easy to see why this spot often gets injured, says Randy Raugh, author of Prime for Life: Functional Fitness for Ageless Living. However, doing core exercises such as the plank can keep your back safe and strong. "All the muscles of your torso have to work together to stabilize your spine, so it's important to condition your entire midsection to avoid injury," he says.

Extra energy.
When your core is strong, every task can feel easier, whether you're jogging or vacuuming. That's because your core is involved in nearly every move you make; even when you're seated, your core is working to keep you upright.

Continued on page 3:  Flexibility


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