After I Lost My Dad to Suicide, Picking Up His Yoga Practice Helped Me Cope

After I Lost My Dad to Suicide, Picking Up His Yoga Practice Helped Me Cope

In September 2002, Kara Edwards was in the car on her way home from a weekend in the country with friends when her phone started blowing up with messages. “We reached an area with cell service, and I started getting bombarded with texts from my three brothers and other family members,” she recalls. Frightened, she called one of her brothers: “He told me that our father had committed suicide.”

“It felt like my world had spun off its axis,” recalls Kara, now 37. “My father was one of my best friends. I’d been a daddy’s girl from the time I was little, and even though he lived in another state, I talked to him all the time. We had just spoken before I left for the weekend, and he seemed fine. I was so stunned and distraught I couldn’t think straight. I had to ask my friend to pull the car over to the side of the road so I could get out and walk around. It felt like life would never be normal again.”

For a long time, it wasn’t. “I went back to work a couple of weeks later, but it was the least productive time of my life,” she says. “I couldn’t concentrate or get anything done because I was so paralyzed by shock and grief.”

She wasn’t functioning well socially, either. Kara, a single mom, and her three-year-old daughter shared a townhouse with a friend who loved to have people over, and Kara began to feel resentful and judgmental of their ability to laugh and have fun.

“They didn’t understand what I was going through, and I thought they were shallow, so I became more and more introverted, staying in my room and writing songs and crying,” she recalls. “The more alone I was, the more depressed I became. I was in a downward spiral and, without my dad, I didn’t know where to turn for help.”

RELATED: I Was in an Abusive Relationship—But Yoga Gave Me the Strength to Leave

Forging a connection

Six months after her father’s death, she was sorting through a box of his belongings and found a Kundalini yoga video. “I didn’t do yoga—and I didn’t know he did,” she says. “But I’d been listening to lots of his music, and I thought this might be another way to connect with him, so I tried it.”

Kara remembers, “I cried off and on the whole practice—not in sadness, but in release. I’d been struggling with the feeling that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t enough to make my dad want to live. But something about the movement was incredibly comforting.”

She started doing the tape every other day, and over time, the practice helped her absorb the reality of what had happened—and find ways to cope.

“Yoga helped me discern between real limitations and false limitations. For instance, Kundalini is a cardio challenge, but I was able to push myself to do more of it than I thought I could—which made me realize that I could push through my pain off the mat and get to a better place emotionally as well,” she says.

“At the same time, I saw that my flexibility posed true limitations, and in order to get past those I needed to be gentle with myself—just like I had to be gentle with myself in real life, and gentle with my friends. I’d had unrealistic expectations of other people’s behavior. Acknowledging that helped me get past my judgment and reconnect with my support system.”

Most importantly, yoga helped Kara feel connected to her father—and continues to even now. “When I’m practicing, I feel like he’s here. I may not be able to see him or hug him or laugh with him, but his spirit is with me, and that’s incredibly comforting,” she says.

“Yoga was my dad’s legacy. My practice keeps me grounded, focused and confident in my own resilience. It allowed me to move on, to get married and have another child. I believe my dad left that tape for me, because he wanted me to learn to manage my feelings in a way he was never able to.”

4 Reasons a Daily Walking Habit Is Worth It

4 Reasons a Daily Walking Habit Is Worth It

We’re bombarded by fitness messaging that tells us that to be healthy, we must go to extremes (“no pain, no gain). But really, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Simply going for a walk (especially if you do it regularly and outdoors) is an underestimated but low-stress, low-impact, accessible way to reap lots of health benefits. It can be a rejuvenating time, spent in solitude or in the company of friends, in sunshine and fresh air. Here are four benefits of going for walks—no gym membership required.

It Boosts Your Mood

Just the act of walking—the way you’ve probably been doing without thought ever since you were a toddler—can improve your mood, even in an environment where you may be dreading tasks you have at hand, according to a 2016 study.

Plus, it gives you a reason to take breaks from your chair throughout the day. If you’re able to walk outside in a natural setting and not on a treadmill or at your workplace, the benefits are even more direct. Studies show that walking outdoors can help relieve stress: In one study, participants who took a 90-minute walk outdoors reported less “rumination” (repeatedly thinking negative thoughts about yourself) and showed less activity in regions of the brain linked to mental illness.

RELATED: Here’s How Much Exercise You Need to Make Up for a Day of Desk Sitting

It Bolsters Heart Health

Activities that have you gasping for breath aren’t the only ones that count as aerobic exercise; moderate walking can help you reap some of the same heart-healthy benefits.

Just 30 minutes of walking a day has been shown to improve blood pressure and reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. This can be accomplished easily by simple decisions like parking farther away from buildings, taking stairs, and pacing while talking on the phone.

It Can Ease Sugar Cravings

The next time you have a hankering for a sweet snack, go for a brief walk. One study showed that taking a 15-minute walk helped people cut their chocolate consumption in half at their workplace.

RELATED: 3 Tips on Breaking Your Sugar Habit

It Improves Brain Health

Going for regular walks has been associated with increased brain plasticity, the ability to create and grow new neural connections in your brain.

It can even help stave off cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s later in life. One study looked at the activity level of seniors; those who walked 72 blocks or more per week had more gray matter in their brains, reducing the risk of cognitive impairment by half.

Your Essential Guide to Yoga

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Finding a yoga class used to be simple. Youd walk into your local gym and there would be The Class. Your choices were few because, well, there werent that many people looking to get their om on: In 2001, 4.3 million Americans were hitting the yoga mat; just over a decade later, that number has almost quadrupled to about 16.5 million. Studios, gyms, and rec centers now offer an estimated 800-plus styles to choose from, says Leigh Crews, a spokesperson with the American Council on Exercise. Some of it has to do with yogas (well-deserved) reputation for being an excellent stress reliever. But a big part of yogas popularity surge is its just plain good exercise. Virtually any type of yoga improves strength, flexibility, and balance, explains John P. Porcari, PhD, director of the clinical exercise physiology program at the University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse. “The more intense styles can also help you shape up and trim down.”

Want to take full advantage of that powerful collection of benefits? Read on for everything you need to know, whether you are a first timer or a regular looking to take your poses to a whole new level.

If you are just beginning or want the best mind/body combo, try Hatha
Poses are straightforward, and the pace unhurried. “You do a pose, come out of it, then do another,” explains Mark Stephens, author of Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques. “Its an excellent style for beginners.” Props like blocks and bolsters are often used to help you get the right alignment. But its not just about the body, as your teacher will also encourage you to focus on breathing, relaxation, and meditation (which may involve chanting). And all of this mindfulness has a real-world benefit: A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who practice Hatha yoga once or twice a week recover from stress faster than those who dont.

If you want to get slim, try Ashtanga Power Yoga
These two provide all the regular benefits of yoga with the fat-blasting bonus of a killer cardio session. Both styles focus on flowing from one pose to the next without rest—making for a terrific calorie burn (about 500 per hour). “The practice is meant to generate heat in your body,” says Mandy Ingber, the yoga instructor behind Jennifer Anistons ageless body. So, yes, you will sweat. A lot.

In Ashtanga, the more traditional of the two, youll begin with chanting, then follow a sequence of poses (“asanas”) that never changes. In a Power yoga class, the poses vary each time and theres usually none of the spiritual aspect.

A large study in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine confirmsthat women get lean in these classes: Practicing yoga of any kind at least once a week for four years or more stavesoff middle-age spread.



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If you want to chill out, try Yin Yoga
Named for the calm half of yin-and-yang, this style requires you to move slowly into poses (most of them seated or lying down), then stay there for up to five minutes to allow for a xdeeper stretch and time to just, well, be.

Not surprisingly, Yin yoga is particularly good at activating the part of your nervous system that helps you bounce back from pain and stress, says Sara Gottfried, MD, an integrative physician in Berkeley, California, and author of the forthcoming book The Hormone Cure. Expect meditative music and lots of attention to breathing, as well as those centers of spiritual energy known as chakras—all elements that add to the serene allure of the practice.

If youre prone to aches, try Iyengar
As in many types of yoga, the poses youll do in an Iyengar class are traditional. The difference is in how those poses are done. Iyengar teachers are trained in biomechanics, so they understand which positions are most likely to cause injuries—and how to modify them by tweaking your form and showing you how to use props to make them less intense, says Stephens. Plus, a pause between poses (as opposed to flowing from one to the other) allows you to perfect your position, so youre less likely to strain something.

Iyengar may even help you recover from injury. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that a similar style of yoga, Viniyoga, worked wonders on chronic low back pain in just 12 weeks.

Find the right class
The truth is, you can find a great instructor and class in a church basement, and a questionable one in a fancy yoga studio. Just keep in mind this rule-of-thumb: Your teacher should be properly trained, with at least a 200-hour certification

A More Flexible You in 5 Minutes
Treat your body to this stretch-you-all-over mini-routine from yoga instructor and DVD star Seane Corn, who teaches at Exhale at Sacred Movement in Venice, California.  Read more
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from Yoga Alliance, the main yoga education organization in the United States. Below, the scoop on your options:

Yoga studio

The coaching: Most require teachers to have Yoga Alliance certification. Some also require additional in-house training so teachers can learn the studios specific style.
The classes: Practice rooms are zen-like and class options abound. Studios that are part of national chains may also offer lockers and showers.
The crowd: Morning classes tend to be smaller (10 to 20 people), but post-work classes may be packed. “In big classes theres usually additional help from yoga instructors who are being mentored by the main teacher,” says KayKay Clivio, head of teacher training at Pure Yoga.
The cost: $12 to $20 per class; $100 to $190 per month for unlimited classes. Ask about free trial classes.



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The gym

The coaching: Teachers are usually certified by Yoga Alliance, but since many gyms dont pay well, you may end up with a teacher whos certified but less experienced, says Timothy McCall, MD, author of Yoga as Medicine.


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The classes: Most gyms provide props and a variety of classes, including yoga hybrids (though the benefits of pure yoga often get lost); atmosphere is less serene than a studios. Then again, you get to hit the steam room after class.
The crowd: After-work classes average 25 to 40 people—usually without additional teaching help—and classmates may be less serious about yoga.
The cost: Usually free with gym membership.

The rec center

The coaching: Teachers sometimes have group-fitness (as opposed to yoga-specific) certification, which is not ideal.
The classes: Usually a few styles with BYO props.
The crowd: Classes tend to be crowded.
The cost: Many charge by the class, others by the year. Discounts are often available for residents.

In the end, what matters is that youre comfortable in the class. If that first one isnt a good fit, try a different style, a different teacher, or both. And once you find that perfect combination, stick with it, says Dr. McCall: “Youll get the most benefits from yoga if youre a regular.”




Want a Booty Like Kim Kardashian? You’ll Need to Follow Her Insanely Hard Leg Day Routine

Want a Booty Like Kim Kardashian? You’ll Need to Follow Her Insanely Hard Leg Day Routine

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This article originally appeared on

Kim Kardashian West has one of the most well-known (and most photographed) bottoms in Hollywood. And according to the 36-year-old reality star’s Snapchats on Saturday, it takes a lot of work to maintain that legendary booty!

In a series of videos, the mother of two — who is expecting a third child, a girl, via a surrogate — walked her followers through a few of the exercises she does to stay fit.

“Today is major leg day,” the star explained, while wearing an all-black workout ensemble and letting her new platinum hair lay loose.

First up were hex deadlift squats using a cap barbell weight bar (or trap bar).

Next, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star launched into a cycle of weighted power sled pulls, Romanian deadlifts, and seated leg presses.

She ended her workout with glute kickbacks on a weighted leg curl machine.

RELATED PHOTOS: Kim Kardashian West’s Best Booty Moments

Fitness was never something Kardashian West was passionate until some unflattering paparazzi photos of her on vacation in Mexico inspired the star to find a whole new way to get in shape.

“I saw these awful photos of myself when I was on a trip in Mexico and people were photoshopping them and sharpening them,” Kardashian West explained on The View in June.

The aggressive photo editing and media scrutiny came at a particularly bad time for the multifaceted mogul, who is mom to 21-month-old son Saint and daughter North, who turned 4 in June.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian West’s Workout Plan! How She Dropped 70 Lbs. 

“I mean I definitely was not in my best shape. I hadn’t worked out in 12 weeks,” she said. “I had two surgeries on my uterus … I was already not feeling like myself, and then when people were sharpening them and making them look way worse and then those were going around, I was like, ‘Okay. I’m gonna get it together.’ ”

To help, Kardashian West linked up with a bodybuilder she met on social media to formulate a better routine. Describing the new regimen, Kardashian West said, “I definitely think that you have to do the work. I get up every morning between 5:30 and 6; workout before my kids get up. I’ve been working out for an hour and a half [each day].”

Along with her dedicated gym time, Kardashian West also “totally changed [her] diet” after realizing a key mistake she was making.

“I was eating less thinking like, ‘Okay. I’m just not gonna eat this,’ ” she explained of her old dieting habits. “But I was eating absolutely no carbs or trying to and that’s really hard for me.”

Her new workout buddy, however, helped her solve this problem. “She’s really helped me with my meal plan to definitely add healthy carbs, vegetables. I was just not eating properly.”

Kardashian West isn’t the only member of the KarJenner clan spilling her workout secrets.

Sister Khloé Kardashian reveled the secrets of her revenge booty in a Khlo-Fit video on her app on Sept. 6 — turning the lens over to her trainer, Don Brooks and pilates instructor Shannon Nadj for the demo.

Brooks walked app subscribers through his Matrix Method, which includes four quarters, with two exercises a quarter, each done for three sets.

The first exercise in the first quarter is a basic lunge, repeated 20 times on each side. The series is then repeated on a Bosu ball, this time with only 10 reps on each side.

In the second set of the first quarter, Nadj jumps laterally into the squat position, repeating the move with 20 reps on each side. Again, the exercise is repeated on the Bosu ball.

Moving on to the second quarter, Nadj does dynamic squats for 20 reps, before repeating the exercise on the Bosu ball for an additional 20 reps.

The second set of the second quarter is jump switch lunges. Nadj jumps three times and lands in a lunge, repeating 20 times on each side. This move is also repeated on the Bosu ball for 20 reps.

Brooks’ complete workout with Kardashian is expected in a later clip.

The Weird Reason Why Stress Sweat Might Smell Worse Than Exercise Sweat

The Weird Reason Why Stress Sweat Might Smell Worse Than Exercise Sweat

Some people do notice they give off an extra-foul stench when they’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. A little background info: The purpose of sweating is to regulate body temperature; with stress sweat, a shift in hormones, such as adrenaline, causes the body to have a fightor-flight response that leads to excessive sweating. But there are two main types of sweat glands, and they produce different types of sweat. When you exercise, you produce sweat, consisting mainly of water and salt, from eccrine glands all around the body that open on the surface of the skin in order to cool you down. When you’re stressed out, sweat gets produced by apocrine glands, which are located in spots on the body that have lots of hair follicles. While all sweat is odorless, the perspiration produced in the areas where we have hair follicles, such as the armpits and the groin, smells bad when it leaves the follicles and combines with bacteria on the skin’s surface. This sweat also contains fats and proteins, which the bacteria likes to feed on.

RELATED: The Best Clinical Strength Deodorants for Your Sweatiest Workouts

So, controlling stress in general will keep body odor at bay in high-anxiety moments. Have stress management techniques—some deep breathing, a quick meditation in a quiet room at the office, you know the drill—in place that you can use, say, before a big presentation. And avoid overdoing it on caffeine during stress spirals; it can cause blood pressure and heart rate to rise and can make stress symptoms even worse.

Also, if you’re worried about stress sweat ruining a moment, try a clinical strength antiperspirant-deodorant (tons of options are available at the drugstore; we like Secret Clinical Strength) at night, when your armpits are drier and the pores will take in the product better—and reapply in the morning.


Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

What to Do If Working Out Is Killing Your Knees

What to Do If Working Out Is Killing Your Knees

Knee pain is a common exercise complaint. The knee is an intricate joint, involving bones, menisci, muscles, tendons, and ligaments all supporting the joint. If there is damage or stress to any of these components, you may have achy knees. Plus, many physical activities—running, jumping, stretching, bending—can put a lot of strain, impact, or body weight directly on the knees, and in turn, cause pain while you work out. This is common among weekend warriors who work out intensely but inconsistently. You can also develop tendonitis over time if you’re regularly doing these motions.

Some causes of knee pain are a bit more serious, however. A common cause in young people, especially those who exercise or play high-impact sports, is patellofemoral pain syndrome. Also known as runner’s knee, this syndrome is characterized by pain in the soft tissues and bone around the kneecap. Treatment may involve rest and physical therapy to stabilize the knee joint. Or, it’s possible that the cartilage in your knees has suffered some wear and tear with use and age (osteoarthritis), in which case you may have to change up your workouts and incorporate more low-impact activities, like swimming, using the elliptical, or cycling, to lessen the pain.

Doing away with general knee pain from exercising could just be a matter of perfecting your form when you, say, run or do squats and lunges. A few sessions with a certified personal trainer or physical therapist can help you learn these basic movements so that you’re doing them with correct form every time and not putting yourself at risk of injury or long-term damage. Or you may need to do physical therapy to improve your knee stabilization. But because there are so many possible reasons for knee pain, your best bet is to talk to your doctor so you can get the specific help you need.


Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

4 Oblique Exercises to Target Your Love Handles

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This article originally appeared on Check out the rest of the exercises at Daily Burn.

When it comes to getting rid of love handles, you’ll want to skip the waist training trend. More often than not, whittling your middle comes down to better nutrition paired with ab exercises that target the obliques.

CeCe Marizu, Daily Burn 365 trainer, says, “It’s important to build up both your internal and external obliques because they create a force that builds strength to allow muscle to take over the fatty areas everyone calls their love handles.”

Sculpting your oblique muscles will not only give you a more defined midsection, it will also help stabilize your core and support your back. “Your external obliques will help your trunk rotate, while your internal obliques also help with rotation but on a deeper level,” Marizu explains. Here’s the perfect workout to keep your sides in check and build total-core strength.

RELATED: 50 Ab Exercises to Score a Stronger Core

Ab Exercises to Target Your Love Handles

What’s best about the oblique exercises below is that they target more than just your love handles. They strengthen your entire posterior chain, too. “Dynamic exercises, like spiderman push-ups and side planks with a reach through, help with your love handles by building muscle. A lot of times we can be neglectful of our side bodies,” Marizu says.

Perform each move for 30 seconds and then take a 30-second break for as many rounds as possible. Marizu recommends doing these exercises three to five days a week. “You don’t have to work long, but work smart,” Marizu says. That means putting a big emphasis on your diet. “Do your core work and show your love handles some love by eating right,” she says.

 Side Plank with Reach Through

GIF: Daily Burn

1. Side Planks with Reach Through

How to: Lie on your right side and place your right hand firmly on the ground. Engaging your core, prop yourself up into a side plank. Stack your left foot over your right, so your body is in a straight line (a). Extend your left arm towards the ceiling and then lower your arm in front of you and bring it under your right hip (b). Bring your left arm back above your head (c).

 Spiderman Crunch

GIF: Chris Ryan / Life by Daily Burn

2. Spiderman Crunch

How to: Get into push-up position with your shoulders directly over your hands (a). Lift your right foot a few inches off the ground and bring your right knee towards your right elbow as you lower your body into a push-up. Be sure your hips don’t drop and your back doesn’t arch (b). Return your right foot back to the starting position as you push yourself back up (c). Repeat on the left side.

 The Saw

GIF: Daily Burn Pilates

3. The Saw

How to: Sit up on a mat with your legs extended in front of you. Spread them as wide as the mat (a). Form a “T” with your arms out to the sides and twist toward your right side, stretching your left hand towards your right foot. Pulse three times (b). Untwist yourself and return to center (c). Repeat on the left side. (For more Pilates ab exercises like this one, head here.)

RELATED: The Ab Moves You Aren’t Doing (But Should!)

 Crab Reach

GIF: Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn

4. Crab Reach

How to: Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground in front of you and your right hand firmly on the ground behind you. Keep your left arm bent by your side (a). Lift your butt off the floor while extending your left arm behind you, reaching for your right side as you come into a reverse tabletop (b). Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side (c).


5 Ways to Torch Your Core in Every Workout

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This article originally appeared on Check out the rest of the exercises at Daily Burn.

At the core of every movement is just that: your core. And while lots of times “core” and “abs” become synonymous, it’s not 100% correct to use them interchangeably. Your rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and obliques do comprise your midsection, but those aren’t the only muscles involved. Your back, hips and glutes also provide that stable base you need for stepping forward and backward, jumping side-to-side or turning all about. So to get a serious core workout you need to work them all.

“Core strength and stability not only enhances physical and athletic performance, but also helps maintain and correct posture and form, and prevent injury,” says Andia Winslow, a Daily Burn Audio Workouts trainer. “Those who have an awareness of their core and ability to engage it properly also have enhanced proprioception — or a sense of the positions of their extremities, without actually seeing them.”

Just picture elite athlete’s movement, Winslow explains, and how rhythmic and easy they travel through space, often in several planes of motion at the same time. They can thank strong trunk muscles for that. “Core should be a focus in every workout,” Winslow says. “Workouts won’t be as effective without proper core engagement.”

That’s not to say crunches need a permanent place in your sweat sessions. You can easily sneak in added core challenges during other common exercises. “When folks elect to add difficulty to workouts, they often increase weight, repetition or duration. Another — and often more effective — way to increase the intensity is by altering stance, ground contact, and/or dynamic variance equipment [think: sand or water],” Winslow says. Shifting your weight, testing your balance, or focusing on sticking a landing, all engage your middle more.

Learn how to get a solid core workout in every strength session with these sneaky midsection-scorching strategies from Winslow.

RELATED: 50 Ab Exercises to Score a Stronger Core

Strength Tips: How to Work Your Core in Every Workout

Photo: Twenty20

1. Add weight overhead. 

Whether you’re doing squats or lunges, Winslow suggests pushing or holding a weight overhead — or even just keeping your arms straight up — to activate your abs and shoulders. These muscle groups have to work harder to keep your spine in a neutral position so you don’t over-arch, straining your low back. Translation: Put your hands in the air like you really care (about your core workout).

2. Hold your step-ups and pull-ups.

Stepping up onto a bench, chair or box requires you to use one leg, driving off your heel to reach the top. While balancing on one limb already works your core to keep you upright, Winslow explains that pausing at the top (with knee raised) will incorporate your midsection more. When you stand up, simply hold for a two- to five-second count, then go back down.

Same strategy holds (literally!) for chin-ups and pull-ups. By pausing with your chin at the bar, your core fires to keep you steady and in one solid line. Leg or arm day turned core workout.

RELATED: 6 Exercises for the Ultimate Back and Chest Workout

Photo: Twenty20

3. Stick a single-leg landing on box jumps.

To crank up the core work in a box jump, start by bringing the hop height down. Then, keep the explosive leap to one leg and really stick the landing. (Hold it at the top for one to three seconds before standing up and stepping off.) One full-body exercise at its finest.

4. Do a single-arm dumbbell press or fly.

Make your arm and ab routine go hand-in-hand. Moving one arm at a time in exercises like a dumbbell press or fly, drives your midsection to work against the rotation to keep your hips square and your back straight. This will work whether you’re standing or lying on your back. Lift your hips into a bridge and you target your glutes, too. So many muscles; so much less time.

RELATED: 5 Planks, 10 Minutes: Your Ultimate Abs Workout

Photo: Daily Burn 365

5. Go for a twist. 

We tend to rotate in multiple directions all day, from turning to give a fellow studio mate a high five to twisting around to chat with a co-worker. But to keep that movement safe, your core needs enough strength to prop you upright and protect the spine. Enter: rotational exercises to build stability. Try twisting your torso at the top of a step-up or the bottom of a front or side lunge, so your body learns to better handle those turns you take throughout the day.