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A strong core can make you less prone to injury when exercising.
Your core provides stability for your upper and lower body, protects your internal organs and helps you breath. Ab exercises work your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis and internal and external oblique muscles. People over 50 can do the same ab exercises as younger people, but may want to take extra care to protect their spines.
Warm up properly before doing ab exercises to reduce the risk of injury during your workout. Doing a warm-up before your ab workout can also make your workout more effective. Do three minutes of marching on the spot to get your blood flowing, bending your elbows and swinging your arms in time with your steps. Keep your hands in a loose fist as you do so. Transition to shoulder rolls to loosen your upper body and then to eight knee bends, to engage your lower body muscles as well as your core.
Sitting Waist Twist
The waist twist is a low-impact sitting exercise that works your abdominal muscles, including your internal and external obliques, which run along the side of your body. Sitting on your hips with your torso straight and your abs engaged, bend your knees to 90-degrees and place your heels on the floor. Space your feet hip width apart. Holding a medicine ball in front of your chest with body hands, turn your entire torso to the right, while keeping your lower body and hips in place. Slowly turn your torso to the left, to complete one full rep. Do 10 reps for three sets.
Stability Ball Crunch
The stability ball crunch is a variation on the basic ab crunch, working your transverse and rectus abominis muscles. However, the stability ball provides cushioning for your lower back, so there is less pressure exerted on the area. Also, the stability ball slightly increases the difficulty of the exercise, making it more effective at building abs. Lying with your lower and middle back on the stability ball, space your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees 90 degrees and plant your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head, but do not interlock your fingers. Curling up from your shoulders, rise up into a standard ab curl, hold for two seconds and then lower your torso back to the resting position. Do three sets of eight crunches.
Staying Still: The Plank
The plank position is based on a yoga pose and is an isometric exercise that works all of your abdominal muscles. Lying face down with your legs fully extended and together, place your forearms under your upper chest, laying them side-by-side. Engaging your abs, lift up off of the ground so that your upper arms are perpendicular to the floor and directly beneath your shoulders. Balance on your toes or the balls of your feet. There should be a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold the pose for 20 to 90 seconds, going for as long as you can, before taking a 15 second pause and repeating the exercise five times. For those who are more comfortable with the exercise, you can rise up with fully extended arms, keeping your hands directly under your shoulders.