If you are like me, you have encountered the word “balance” many times over. You eat a balanced meal, you balance your time between work and personal life, and you balance your checkbook when you absolutely have to.

My topic today is about none of those. I’m talking about ways to strengthen your core muscles. You know, the ones that keep you breathing and sitting up straight. The ones that hold in your abdomen and get ignored a lot. The ironic thing is, strengthening your core muscles is super easy. And I am all about easy. Ask my husband.

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When you were a kid and you learned to ride a bike, your core muscles helped you learn to balance and get rid of those dorky little wheels on the back. Riding a stationary bike is good for leg muscles, but if you can get on a real bike, do it. Take advantage of the opportunity to use more muscle groups. Also, you can plot stories, introduce villains, and kill off people while riding. What’s not to love?

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If a bike is not in your future, do you have a bed or a sofa? You can plank at an angle. You don’t have to get down on the floor from whence you may never get back up. Make sure someone watches you the first few times to ensure you have the right posture. Then start with 10 seconds of planking. In two days, move up to 20 seconds. When you get to a minute, add a second time during the day to do this. You’ll be amazed at how much better you look and feel. Especially with all the holiday eating out of the way.

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My favorite balance exercise that helps strengthen my core muscles is sitting on a balance ball. Not only is this easy and fun, you can have a ready stream of jokes to make about your big ball. I have a big blue ball. See? Fun and entertaining. I have developed issues with my back and hip that seem to be sciatically involved. Sitting on the ball relieves the pressure and pain. Important: Be sure your knees are below your hips when you sit. Otherwise, your ball isn’t inflated enough. Give it a few more pumps.

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Wall sits are certainly not fun, but not that hard to do. What’s hard is staying in that position long enough to do any good. Also, my dismount needs work. Falling to the floor, I discovered, is not the best way to go. Like the plank, start out with a few seconds and increase the time every day or so. Before you know it, you can hold that position until the EMTs show up and rescue you.

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My last hint has to do with my dog, who is too well-bred to do her business in the backyard. She must be walked, three times per day. I don’t mind because being more active is one reason why I got a dog. However, she’s a terrier. Stubborn, silly, and sees the world through her nose. She has to stop and sniff for long periods of time or she acts like I made her miss the finale of her favorite show. My heart rate doesn’t stay elevated when I walk with her. I have a few remedies for this. I march in place, or I step side to side and lift my knees, or I balance on one leg then the other. The balancing on one leg is really difficult. REALLY difficult. I know, however, that if I want to stop falling, I need to improve my balance as I age. So that one wins.

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It’s also important to not care what people around you think. Let them laugh. Let them point. I’ll have the last laugh when I live to be 120 years old. I’ll be splashing around in my vat of nutrients and chuckling about those crazy bipedal idiots. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday. And NaNo will be done.

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