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Heard of core conditioning? It’s the “apple-a-day” way for you to ensure that your body stays strong and steady.

Simply put, core conditioning is a series of exercises that target your core—the body’s center of power that starts just below your shoulders and ends just below your hips. You work out to gain strength in the muscles that control your trunk and spine while improving balance, agility and flexibility. Adding core strength lets you continue to perform daily functions like lifting grocery bags, playing with your grandchildren and getting in and out of your car. A strong, stable core also helps reduce your risk of injury and prevent back pain.

Try these exercises to build the back, abdominal, thigh and buttock muscles associated with a strong core. Check with your physician first to be sure you get started on the fitness level that’s right for you.

  • Yoga. This ancient practice involves stretching and holding postures that focus on building flexibility, balance and strength.
  • Tai chi. This Chinese ritual involves precise, relaxed exercises to increase both agility and balance.
  • Pilates. It’s the latest craze, involving the use of certain exercises to create longer and stronger muscles without the bulk.
  • Weight training. Focus on exercises that target your core muscles. Start light and increase the intensity of your workout over time. You may want to consult with a personal trainer to develop a program tailored to your specific needs.
  • Stability ball exercises. Sometimes called Swiss balls or resist-a-balls, these large, rubber exercise balls are one of the best ways to actively target and stabilize your core. Start with the ball slightly deflated or secure it against a wall until you’re ready to add more challenge to your balance. Choose a ball that comes with a video of basic exercises, and get rolling.