The best way to improve your posture is to focus on exercises that strengthen your core — the abdominal and low back muscles that connect to your spine and pelvis.
Some of these muscles move your torso by flexing, extending, or rotating your spine. Others stabilize your pelvis and spine in a natural, neutral position. Old-style sit-ups used only a few of these muscles, often with jerky momentum. Today’s yoga, Pilates, and core fitness programs target your entire core with slow, controlled movements to get the most out of your workout.
Make these posture-boosting exercises a regular part of your routine. Remember to exhale strongly and pull in your core muscles as you work — a key principle in both Pilates and yoga.
DUMBBELL SIDE BEND
Bend sideways to the right, squeezing your waist on the right side. Keep your neck as neutral as possible, looking forward not down.
Pull the left ribs down to return to standing upright.This focuses the work on the left obliques.
STANDING DUMBBELL FLY
Stand and lean forward at your hips to a 45 degree angle (keep your back straight).
Pull through your back muscles to bring your straight arms up towards the ceiling and out to the side.
Hold for 5 counts.
STANDING DUMBBELL ROW
Bend forward ~45 degrees at your hips (try to keep your back straight!).
Pull through your back to bring your elbows behind you – pull the weight right in to your chest.
SINGLE LEG EXTENSION
Exhale strongly and pull your navel in and up toward your spine. Slowly pull one knee into your chest, keeping your low back pressed to the floor, while extending your other leg straight at about a 45-degree angle off the floor.
Keep your abdominals pulled in and your low back on the floor. If your low back arches off the floor, extend your leg higher toward the ceiling.
PILATES ROLL UP
Exhale strongly and pull your navel in and up toward your spine.
Roll up in slow motion, reaching your arms off the floor, then your shoulders and head, rolling up one vertebra at a time until you’re sitting up with your abdominals still pulled in.
Slowly roll back down.
Exhale strongly and pull your abdominal muscles in and up toward your spine.
Lengthen out through your spine and slowly raise your head and chest off the floor, using only your back muscles.
Do not push down into your arms to press up.
Keep your hip bones on the floor, and gaze down at the floor to relax your neck muscles.
Slowly lower back down.
Extend both legs straight behind you, toes tucked under, into a position like the top of a pushup.
Pull your abdominal muscles in to prevent a “sway back,” and gaze down at the floor.
Hold the plank until you start feeling fatigued.
Rest and then repeat.
Keep your abdominals pulled in and up so your low back doesn’t sag as you exhale.
CRUNCH WITH A TWIST
Place your hands behind your head.
As you exhale, lift your right shoulder off the floor, rotating toward the left.
Inhale and lower your shoulder back to the floor.
Repeat on the other side to complete one rep.
Lie face down, keeping your arms to your sides.
Keeping your head in line with your spine, gently lift your shoulders as far off the floor as possible, then return to the starting position.
Lift the left arm and right leg, keeping the elbow and knee straight.
Lower your limbs back to the starting position before repeating with the right arm and left leg.
Hold for a few seconds before exhaling and pulling your shoulder blades down and together.
Hold this position for a few breaths before returning to the starting position and repeating on the other side.
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