In the karate class of five to six year olds, right before my eight-year-old son's class, the wee little girls and boys do crunches. Well, actually, these are more like stiff little movements upward, their hands folded nicely on their chests, their faces straining to the rhythm of their teachers intense counting pace. As the students get bigger, leaner, older and stronger, they are still expected to do crunches. I watch as my eight-year-old and almost eleven-year-old struggle with these, wanting to please, wanting to have a "tight belly" as their teacher says, so that they can ward off enemies from all directions and have a steady center of gravity. "Kiap!"
Many of us struggle mightily with abdominal exercies throughout our lives, especially if we are women and have gone through childbirth, as the abdominal muscles take so much transforming before, during and after the metamorphosis that is pregnancy.
How can we find appropriate abdominal exercises throughout the course of our lives so that we are doing the right exercise for our bodies at the right time and not just barreling through fifty sit-ups because its what we're used to doing? The following link will take you to some very specific abdominal exercises which will not only improve your abs, but can help with lower back strength as well. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/abdominalexercises-for-women.html
Contrary to popular belief, starting a rigorous program of abdominal crunches and hardcore "core" work is not recommended for post-partum moms. Rather than letting panic set in about getting your "pre-baby" body back which, quite frankly, has been trumped up in the media in the last ten years in a rather disturbing way, but that's another topic for another day, moms should slowly ease into an appropriate strength and toning system that works gently with the muscles to help heal and contract.
The following link will assist post-partum moms with some very specific abs exercises specifically designed for this period in a woman's life. http://www.befitmom.com/abdominal_reconditioning.html
Aging can bring a body to a point of exhaustion and it is the time to do more, not less physical activity.