By Kim Duke, NETA & AFAA Certified Trainer

The core is the part of our bodies that plays an integral role in helping us move, keeping us balanced and houses most of our precious internal organs.

However, this is also the first part of our body that we tend to forget about. We walk and run for our hearts. We train our legs and arms to look leaner and sexy.  But, it’s our core that seems to fail us most as we age.

Without constant focus on our posture and tummies, we end up with things we refer to as spare tires, pooches, muffin tops, love handles and beer bellies. Crunch all you want, but experts agree that the real key to middle management is a combination of burning and toning — not to mention a healthy, clean diet as well.

You need cardio workouts (the higher intensity, the better) to fry the stubborn fat that tends to accumulate around the waist, as well as sculpting weight training to strengthen the muscles to hold it all in.

Sit-ups target the straight-down-the-center, forward-flexing rectus abdominis muscle. Moves like the plank dig deeper, engaging the transversus abdominis, the innermost muscle that wraps around your waist to support your spine. Twists and balancing moves work your obliques and back muscles as they stabilize your body.

I wish I could tell you there’s one magic move that does it all, but how boring would that be?  By mixing your moves up, you give the core the 360-degree attention it deserves. Before long, you’ll be saying good-bye to belly fat and hello to a toned and strong core.