Exercising before work helps wake you up, gets you mentally prepared for the day, and jump-starts your metabolism, but we can’t all be freak-of-nature morning people. Getting some exercise in before heading to your job doesn’t have to mean waking up at the crack of dawn, though. Even just doing some simple exercises, taking no more than 15 or 30 minutes, can counteract the hours you’ll spend sitting and give you some awesome physical and mental health benefits. Try working these seven easy exercises into your morning routine and feel the quick effects of getting moving.
Stretching: Cats and dogs have it right: when you wake up, it’s time to stretch. Stretching in the morning can increase flexibility and improve circulation. Stretch your arms over your head, lean to each side, and bend over to touch your toes. Consider stretching your neck, lower back, and chest. And don’t be afraid to get on the ground to stretch your legs and basically any muscle you can think of.
Yoga poses: You don’t have to be an expert Yogi in order to do some easy poses before work. Start with some beginner positions like Cat-Cow Pose, Downward Dog, and Warrior One; if you hold each for a minute or two, you’ve still used up less than 10 minutes! As you get the hang of it, add some more difficult positions — Camel Pose, Extended Side Angle, Pigeon, etc. Find the positions that get you focused and make you feel good, and stick with it.
Walking: Anyone over the age of 2 can take part in this easy exercise; just stand up and walk somewhere. Take a walk around your neighborhood or if there’s a park or trail nearby, use it. Don’t worry about walking miles every morning, because even just a few hundred extra steps a day can make you more healthy and fit. If you want to count your steps for the whole day, buy a pedometer, wear it all day, and see how many you normally go. Then make an effort to add onto that number in the mornings.
Free weights: Lifting weights might make you think of greased-up bodybuilders, but using free weights before heading out in the morning can be useful for almost anyone. If you want to bulk up, you’ll want to get heavier weights and do fewer repetitions, but if you just want to get a little stronger and burn some calories, try light weights with more reps. It’s a fast, easy way to tone up, and you can work on all kinds of muscles in your upper body.
Stairs: If you have stairs inside your house, you’re already primed for the perfect workout. Just throw in five or 10 extra trips up and down the stairs while you’re getting ready in the morning, and you’ll be working out your heart, legs, and lungs. If you want to make things harder, skip steps on your way up, go up backwards, or hop up a couple steps and then back down. Even if you just have a few stairs somewhere outside your house, stepping up and down them for five or 10 minutes will get your day going. You’ll feel the burn in no time and can feel good about taking the elevator to your office.
Crab walk: This is one you’ll definitely want to do in the comfort of your own home, because you’re probably going to look ridiculous. No one can waddle around on their hands and feet belly-up without feeling just a little dumb, but it’s a great workout for your arms and legs, and will stretch the rest of your body. Crawl around your house for two minutes a few times and you’ll feel it. If that starts to get too easy for you, try lifting one leg at a time high into the air for extra toning. Try out different combinations of all these exercises for quick workouts before going to work and change them up enough that you don’t get bored.