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Exercises you and your baby can enjoy together 

These core exercises provide bonding time and protect new parents from back injuries

A new baby can necessitate a total life overhaul. From sleeping patterns to living arrangements, everything undergoes a shift. For new moms and dads, Junior can also present new stresses on their bodies. The back is especially at risk, says Nolan Ferraro, a personal trainer and owner of Salire Fitness and Wellness (4209 Magazine St., 504-821-4896; www.salirefitness.com).

  "Any time you carry a squirming human being that weighs between 7 pounds at birth and 25 pounds a couple months in, you're prone to back injuries," Ferraro says. "When you carry the baby on one hip, when you put a baby in the car seat — all of that moves your spine, hips and pelvis. If you don't have good core stability, you risk injury."

  Core strength has become a buzzword, Ferraro says, and many people think it just refers to abdominal muscles. However, core strength is composed of several muscle groups: the abdominal, oblique and back muscles and those around the spine. When people have strong back, abdominal and oblique muscles, their bodies are able to stabilize from the midsection before mobilizing.

   "The more stable you are, the less likely you are to trip or tweak something in your back," Ferraro says. "As [core muscles] become stronger, you can move things around and not worry so much about lower back injury."

  Ferraro recommends squats to condition the back and upper part of the lower body. Bench presses strengthen core muscles (the transverse abdominis, obliques, multifidus, erector spinae and quadratus lumborum) among other muscle groups. Best of all, when performed using a baby for weight resistance, the exercises offer a way to bond with the child.

  That's another application of core strength, says Ferraro. His definition of core strength extends beyond the physical. "Core values means living from your core, your essence. Your [physical] core is the same way," Ferraro says. "As your core becomes stronger, you become a much more stable individual."

Demonstrated by Chris Mangum and his son Simon.

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