To get into the habit of a morning workout, start with gentle movements that yield big results. Go for moves that strengthen and stretch your entire body while getting your blood pumping but that are a bit less intense. If you tend to feel tight in your hips and legs or achy in your lower back when you wake up, these moves will help relieve pain and boost flexibility. Try slowly moving through a few of these morning exercises before you even brush your teeth.
1. Bird Dog
Why you should do it: “Doing this simple exercise first thing in the morning will activate your full body, with a focus on the trunk and erector spinae [muscles and tendons running along your spine], which helps to build better posture,” explains Lesley Bell, a NASM-certified personal trainer based in Santa Monica, CA. It also increases lower-body stabilization throughout your day, making climbing stairs and even just walking feel easier and more efficient.
How to do it: Start on hands and knees. Squeeze glutes, draw stomach in, pull your shoulder blades down, and keep head in line with spine. Holding the position, lift the right arm and left leg so that each is extended straight. Bend your right arm and left leg, bringing right elbow to left knee. Hold for three seconds, then extend and repeat. Do 10 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.
Why you should do it: If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you know how good this move feels. “In the morning, this move is a great way to wake up every portion of the spine so it’s prepared for the activities you’ll perform during the day,” says Tim Hampton, a NASM-certified personal trainer at elevate Health & Performance in Philadelphia, PA.