For a balanced fitness program, core workouts must be included within the other aspects of strength training and cardiovascular training. It's as simple as that.
Whether you are after six pack abs or not, core workouts are sessions that are done where the focus is on strengthening the mid-section muscles along with giving you all around better agility.
If you have a very strong mid-section you are going to find it much easier to resist any forces applied to you (when playing other sports for example) as well as have a reduced chance of injuring yourself during any twisting movements you make.
Your core workouts shouldn't typically last all that long because as long as you are performing the exercises with enough intensity and using correct form, you will be providing enough stimulus to encourage growth of new muscle tissue.
Aim to include 4-5 different exercises in these sessions that target this area of the body from a variety of angles. It is always best to keep changing the exercises around as well so you do not grow accustomed to any particular exercise and start plateauing. It is as simple as including one different exercise per session to keep things moving. This will also help to prevent boredom, which is a significant factor in motivational levels when it comes to fitness.
Lastly, always be sure to do some stretching work at the end as well. You do not want these muscles to get overly bulky in appearance because that will make you start looking wider rather than long and lean. A good stretching session will not only lengthen the appearance but will also help to prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness from occurring. This should be done for about ten minutes after the strengthening exercises have been completed.