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Core Knowledge Whether Home or Traveling, Stay Strong with Three Simple Exercises By Autumn Chandler Photos by Ray Sepesy DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING STRENGTH IN THE CORE MUSCLES OF THE BODY is essential to improving ftness, decreasing aches and pains and maintaining activities of daily living well into our golden years. So what exactly is your "core"? Simply put, your core is the trunk of the body. This includes the muscles of both the shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle, as well as all of the muscles of the abdomen, back and glutes. True core strength goes well beyond working the rectus abdominis (the top layer of your ab muscles). In fact, recent research shows the greatest core activation occurs when both the shoulder and glute muscles are engaged and the element of balance is introduced. Here are a few exercises you can use to strengthen your core at home or while traveling. All you need is a small dufe bag or tote flled with clothing or other heavy but fexible items and you're set! Plank & Pull Place the bag on the foor. Achieve proper plank position by placing hands directly under the shoulders, keeping elbows soft and shoulder blades separated. Tilt the tailbone slightly under to engage the low abs and release tension in the low back. Legs should be fully straightened with feet fexed. While keeping the hip bones pointed down toward the foor, reach with one hand and pull the bag across the foor to the same side of the body. Making sure to maintain the position of the hips, reach with the other hand and pull the bag across to the other side of the body. Repeat 8-10 times. Rotational Lunge Come to a standing position, holding the bag in both hands with arms relaxed down by your sides. Step forward with the right leg into a lunge position (90-degree bend at both knees) as you rotate the bag through your torso to the right side. Push out of the lunge position with the right foot and come back to your starting position, bringing the bag in front of you. Repeat on the left side. Alternate sides for 8-10 repetitions. Superman No bag needed for this one. Lie face down on the foor with arms and legs fully extended. Keeping hips glued to the foor and neck relaxed, lift both the arms and legs of the foor and hold the position for 10-15 seconds before relaxing back down to the foor. Option: add a "swimming" motion when both arms and legs are elevated. Perform 8-10 repetitions. Recent research shows the greatest core activation occurs when both the shoulder and glute muscles are activated and the element of balance is introduced. Autumn Chandler is creative director of Core Revolution (www.corerevclt.com), a ftness organization. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing and a master's in health administration. BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 71 WINTER 2015-2016