Did you know that you don’t have to do annoying crunches and sit-ups to strengthen your abs? This weekend’s challenge, the No-Crunch Abs Toner And Balance Booster, shows you how to effectively tone your core and back muscles to protect your spine and improve balance without lifting your shoulders off the floor.
I also share with you recent research that shows the benefits of core muscle exercises on balance, particularly in seniors. And that’s not all – certain foods can actually improve balance as well, so today’s challenge includes a delicious recipe rich in a balance-enhancing compound.
Strong core muscles are central for balance and posture, whether you’re moving, standing, or sitting still. But there’s even more to core muscle strength than balance.
Improved gait and motion are clear gains from having strong core muscles. If they are weak, then your arms and legs will do the lion’s share of the work when you walk, work in your garden, throw a ball, swing a tennis racket, and so forth. Strong core muscles kick in to share the load and allow for greater endurance and enjoyment.
Lower back pain can be caused by weak core muscles that don’t support the spine. As a result, the muscles of the lower back compensate for the lack of support by tightening. Such weakness puts you at risk for injury as well. When you exercise and stretch the core muscles, it improves flexibility, mobility, and protects the lumbar vertebrae.
Everyday tasks are safer when your core is strong. This ties in with balance, of course – so many daily tasks, from carrying groceries to reaching for a file in the office, involve balance and a strong core. Your core is where your center of gravity is found, and these are the muscles that “kick in” when you almost fall but keep yourself upright.
Posture is an important aspect of bone health, as Savers know. Being able to stand tall (and sit up straight) with your spine, shoulders, hips, and legs in alignment is crucial for staving off kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump) and vertebral deterioration. Proper posture also enhances deep breathing, which helps alkalize the body and promote bone renewal.
The No-Crunch Abs Toner offers all these benefits, plus when practiced regularly, it’ll give you toned abdominal muscles. Here’s how to do it.
Use an exercise mat or carpeted floor for comfort.
- Lie on your back with your hands at your sides.
- Lift both legs to create an inverse “L” with your shins (your thighs will be almost perpendicular to the floor, and your lower legs at around a 45 degree angle from the floor).
- Lower one leg slowly down, keeping it bent at the same angle, and gently tap the floor with your toes. Bring your leg back up to the starting position. Keep the non-moving leg in the inverted “L” position.
- Repeat 10 to 20 times, making sure you don’t go beyond your comfort level.
- Switch legs and repeat 10 to 20 times.
Study Shows Core Exercises Enhance Balance In Seniors
I’m sure you’re aware that balance is of utmost importance in avoiding falls that could result in a fracture (or fractures). So it makes sense that balance-enhancing exercises like the No-Crunch Abs Toner And Balance Booster would be included in a fracture-prevention program like Save Our Bones.
What’s so hopeful about this is that science clearly shows that seniors can improve their core strength and therefore their balance when they practice exercises like this regularly.
In the study, 32 seniors were assigned either to a control group or participated in regular, progressive core instability strength training (CIT) for nine weeks. The ability to balance was measured in both groups before and after the CIT.
Here’s the researchers’ inspiring conclusion:
“CIT proved to be a feasible exercise program for seniors with a high adherence rate. Age-related deficits in measures of trunk muscle strength, spinal mobility, dynamic balance and functional mobility can be mitigated by CIT.”1
This is great news! Science proves that you won’t lose (or that you can regain) the youthful balance, trunk muscle strength and general functionality if you regularly practice targeted, core-strengthening exercises like today’s challenge. Just because you’re in a certain age group does not mean your body isn’t capable of responding to exercise with improved balance, posture, and strength.
It’s not just exercise that promotes excellent balance in all age groups. Balance has a neural component, too, and as you’ll learn next, certain foods contain a substance that prevents neural deterioration.
Resveratrol From Foods Improves Balance And Reduces The Risk Of Falls
Resveratrol-rich foods like blueberries, bilberries, red grapes, and cranberries decrease the incidence of neural cell death. This is the likely reason why, in a study involving mice, older mice improved their balance when fed blueberries to the point that their balance was on par with that of younger mice.
It’s important to note that raw foods are best to get the most resveratrol. According to a 2003 study, heating resveratrol-containing foods to a temperature of 190 degrees Celsius (374 degrees Fahrenheit) destroyed almost half the resveratrol in the food.2
So any dark-skinned fruits that have been baked, sautéed, boiled, etc. will not have nearly the resveratrol content of these same food raw.That’s why today’s recipe uses raw blueberries.
Try these scrumptious snack nibbles this weekend to enhance the effectiveness of the No-Crunch Abs Toner And Balance Booster.
Raw Blueberry Nibbles
Yield: about 8 balls
- 10 dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup blueberries, frozen and preferably organic
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- Shredded coconut, unsweetened
- Place the nuts, seeds, dates, vanilla, and almond butter in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined and dates and nuts are chopped.
- Add the frozen blueberries and blend again until well mixed.
- Wet your hands and roll mixture into balls. Freeze balls for an hour or so to harden, if necessary.
- Remove from freezer and roll in shredded coconut. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This recipe makes about 8 balls; double ingredients as needed.
What You Eat Before And After You Workout Accelerates Your Bone-Building Results
If you have the the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, then you know that in addition to the 52 moves, it includes a free comprehensive Eating Guide. It explains in depth the nutrients you need before and after you exercise to maximize your bone-building results.
For example, prior to working out, it’s best to eat foods with a low glycemic load, so your blood sugar remains stable and you can maintain antioxidant levels (exercise increases the number of free radicals in your body).
The Densercise™ Eating Guide also reveals, among other things, which is the best protein to consume after you Densercise™, so you’ll have the building blocks your muscles need to prevent breakdown of muscle tissue and promote muscle protein synthesis.
Please let us know how the No-Crunch Abs Toner And Balance Enhancer works for you. Personally, I found it to be easy starting out, but as I continued I could really “feel the burn” in my abs…the perfect “balance” between simplicity and challenge!
Have a great weekend!
1 Granacher, Urs, et al. “Effects of Core Instability Strength Training on Trunk Muscle Strength, Spinal Mobility, Dynamic Balance and Functional Mobility in Older Adults.” Gerontology. 2013. 59(2): 105-13. Doi: 10.1159/000343152. Web. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232738271_Effects_of_Core_Instability_Strength_Training_on_Trunk_Muscle_Strength_Spinal_Mobility_Dynamic_Balance_and_Functional_Mobility_in_Older_Adults
2 Lyons, M.M., et al. “Resveratrol in raw and baked blueberries and bilberries.” J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Sep 24;51(20):5867-70. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13129286
Comments on this article are closed.
I find most of the weekend exercise challenges are fun and easy to follow. I do it every morning alternating every other day the routines. Vivian, thank you for posting these healthy exercises.
Great exercise! Love all your weekend challenges which I’m doing – some at a time.
Thank you so much, Vivian!
Vivian, you have worked diligently to continuously update your knowledge of both theory and practice. Instead of keeping it to yourself, you broadcast it to any person fortunate enough to know about your program, Save Our Bones.
In doing so, I think you are imitating one of the world’s best — our personal friend and physician, the late Dr. Robert Salter, whose endorsement of your program appears inside the cover of your book. I remember sitting in his office, waiting to see him and pondering the meaning of the poster that hung above his desk. The quotation was,
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. – Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke in 1676 (age 34)
The message, of course, is one that expresses humility. At the same time, it assumes the willingness to find and to “ascend” onto those shoulders, and to strive for greatness. Thank you, Vivian.
I really like this comment and especially the quote. Thank you.
Thanks for this exercise that I can add to the list that u send me in the e mails. Now, they are part of my daily routine, and I feel, they are helping me a lot for balance and strenght.
Hope, to keep getting stronger with diet and exercise.
Thanks Vivian.. this particular exercise was giving to me by my regular Dr just last week….
We also do tie taps in both my Pilates and my Core Yoga classes. Also was one of the exercises I was given in physical therapy when I hurt my back. Important to tell people to “button down” their abs (pull abs down/in toward back for maximum effect. Then they really will feel the burn!
I do the No-Crunch Abs Toner in my Pilates class but we call it ‘Toe Taps’. A variation is ‘Heel Taps’ and another is to stretch out more with the lower leg when tapping. Quite an number of Vivian’s exercises are covered in Pilates which is great for reducing back ache.
What do you recommend for plantar fascitis (sp?) – my heels hurt first thing in the morning, but loosen up immediately afterwards, but sometimes it doesnt go away. The more I exercise my feet and legs, the more my heels hurt. This condition started sudddenly one morning about 4 months ago on my right heel and I can only imagine it has something to do with weight. I am somewhat overweight in my middle which is not new for me, why would this start so suddently ? Thanks Jacqui
Hi Jacqui, I started suffering from plantar faciitis a couple of years ago and I still have a tendency to it although it is so much better than it used to be. It used to severely hamper my efforts at exercise but now I can do the exercises again.
I saw a physiotherapist who told me that stretching the foot is very important. You need to gently stretch the underlying tissue. One way is to stand with your hands against a wall and place your foot with your heel on the floor and your toes on the wall. slowly move forward until you feel a stretch in your foot, don’t force it. Repeat 6 times. Do several times during the day. You will find information on this and other stretches on the net.
I also found out that my feet were over pronating and that inserts which supported the arch of my feet were very helpful. Also that wearing supportive footwear about the house and not slippers or flip flops is helpful as well. Another thing I found helpful was footbaths with magnesium flakes in (or Epsom salts which have magnesium in) and this helped with the inflammation.
Good luck with this, it may take a bit of time but you will overcome it and be able to exercise again.
I have an inactive pelvic floor muscle. Would this exercise be safe for me to do?
I as far as I know do not have Osteoporosis. I have been doing all the exercise from you each weekend.I am finding benifit from them no more back pain when standing for any length of time for one. But I do have a problem with my knees when I walk for any length of time. Just around home fine but after walking my legs start to ache and my knees do have pain but after rest they are back to normal no pain. I DO NOT have pain or swelling of my feet just my knees. My knees do click around quit often when I am walking.
Thank you very much . I truly appreciates everything.
Have a wonderful day. Marlene
I will try this exercise IN BED. Cannot get on the floor and then up so easily any more.
Thank you so much, Vivian, for all of these “Weekend Challenges.” I’ve shared your site with my personal trainer, and she loves these weekend challenges too! She helps me with my form, and we often spend our time together doing just YOUR exercises! 🙂 [But we also work on strength and balance too!]
So grateful you’re out here doing all of this! – Suzy
I really love it! It is challenging but not uncomfortable, just perfect! Thank you for that!!! I’m also trying the recipe today! 😉
wonderful exercises—-always on target for whichever area is a problem