As soon as they wake up, dogs take a luxurious stretch and invigorating shake to prepare their bodies for the day ahead, whether that includes hunting and running (like they evolved to do), or playing with toys and lazing about in the sun (like my dog does every day). We can learn a lot from their canine instincts: Getting the lead out first thing has benefits for humans, too.
Both stretching and working out in the morning get our blood flowing, which helps our organs (including our brains) function properly, and sends oxygen to parts of our body that might be stiff after a night of sleep. More intense movement can reduce that a.m. brain fog, while gentle exercises may awaken our “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system, setting us up for some calm and focused hours ahead.
A new morning workout from Charlee Atkins, trainer and founder of Le Sweat, both creates space in our bodies and activates our muscles. In this 10-minute mobility-focused workout video, Atkins zeroes in on helping your hips, spine, chest, and shoulders move throughout their full ranges of motion. To do that, she combines stretches with strengthening exercises to get the benefits of both types of movement.
For example, a set of isometric split squats works your lower body and increases mobility, since the position includes a front body stretch. The move you activate, the deeper the stretch.
“We’re really firing up that back glute to open up the hips,” Atkins says.
Other mobility-focused moves include windmill stretches to mobilize your shoulder joints and spine, side planks to awaken your core, and an ending set of step jacks for a little cardio burst to get your heart pumping.
And, of course, what would a morning movement session be without some downward dogs? It’s a cross-species classic for a reason.