For the many years I worked the opening morning shift at a fitness center, I would see the same familiar faces come in at 530 AM, psyched and ready for their daily workout. I was still sleepy at that hour but I was there because it was my job, not because I couldn’t wait to get up and log five miles on the treadmill while most of the town was still sleeping! I admired the dedication and routine of these members. Most would also shower at the gym, allowing time to get primped before driving to work while eating breakfast in the car.
About these early morning escapades, many people would argue they didn’t have time to go to the gym before work or that they just weren’t “morning people”. That’s understandable. Driving does take time as does packing clothes and essentials for changing into after a sweaty workout. So, instead of extra driving in the morning, what about still using that precious morning time, fitting in an early workout session? There are lots of calorie burning and heart pumping activities one could fit in at home, before getting ready for work, school, or whatever is on the schedule. Even five or ten minute blocks of activity add up to increased energy and a revved up metabolism. And if morning truly isn’t the best time for you, these exercises can either be done out in the neighborhood, in the kitchen, or in front of the TV while catching up with the evening news. Have fun!
Walking: Of course, we have all heard it before. Walking is easy, convenient and requires no fancy equipment. Slide those sneakers on place one foot in front of the other. Stay to the sidewalks if possible, and dress for the weather. Bring your furry friend and do your pet some good at the same time. Enjoy the quiet time to yourself, bring your music (but be aware of your surroundings) or, if you prefer company maybe a neighbor would join you. Start with a 20-30 minute walk and increase duration as you feel ready, or on days when you have more time available.
Push-ups: This is an oldie but goodie and can be done pretty much anywhere. Place your hands on the floor under chest, and a little wider than shoulder width. Walk your feet back until hips are in line with shoulders. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your whole body (not just your head) towards the floor, then use your chest and triceps to raise your body back up. Choose the traditional straight leg push up (as described) or a modified version by using knees on the floor. Other options include using kitchen counter (while waiting for coffee to brew), or a wall at home. Try for 3 sets, 10 push ups each.
Seated Reverse Flys: These can be done without weights, but for more resistance, use light weights or filled water bottles. Find a chair, firm couch or bed and place a pillow on your lap. Let arms hang down to the floor while resting your chest on the pillow. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together and lift your arms away from the floor, just past shoulder level. A good visualization is to make the insides of your shoulders blades ‘kiss’. Keep your head facing down and your feet firm on the floor for support. This move works the posterior deltoids (back shoulders) and trapezius (upper back). Try for 3 sets of 10 lifts, with a 30 second rest in between sets.
Jump Squats: These explosive jumps will increase your heart rate and burn calories. Start slowly, taking some time to feel comfortable with the motion. Start standing with feet hip width apart and hands on hips. Bend your knees and sit back as if you were sitting into a chair. Pause at the bottom of the movement and then jump up with arms reaching overhead. Land softly, bringing hands back to hips and perform 7 more. Try for 3 sets of 8 jumps, with a minute rest in between.