Slot This 7-Move Workout Into Your Morning Routine

The gentle circuit will ease stiffness ahead of a sedentary workday

A man doing a morning workout on the sand with the sky behind him.
The workplace is more sedentary than ever. You need a morning workout routine.
Bruce Bennett/Staff/Getty Images

Most desk warriors could use a little Warrior 2. The workplace has never been quite this inactive. Sitting long hours has essentially become a job requirement: according to research from 2020, 80% of contemporary jobs could now be classified as “sedentary.”

To say nothing of the mental health woes that accompany a motionless life, there are legitimate physiological concerns: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, osteoporosis, blood pooling in your lower half or feet, back pain. Contorting your spine into the same workstation, every single day, regardless of its ergonomic clout, is no way to reel in the years.

What’s an employee to do? Consider starting your day with a light morning workout, in order to alleviate stiffness and set a positive tone for a long day at the desk.

We’ve compiled a quick, easy and gentle circuit, which prioritizes stretching and mobilizing key areas like the back and neck, and should get your blood flowing in the process. Here are seven simple moves to incorporate into your morning routine.

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7-Move Morning Workout

  • Neck rolls: Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed. Gently lower your chin to your chest and slowly roll your head in a circular motion, allowing your ear to come close to your shoulder. Complete three to five rotations in either direction.
  • Shoulder rolls: In a standing position, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, then roll them back and down, creating a circular motion. Repeat 10 times, then reverse the direction.
  • Cat-Cow stretch: Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Inhale as you arch your back, dropping your belly and lifting your chest and tailbone. Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your tailbone and bringing your chin to your chest. Repeat for five cycles.
  • Spinal twist: Lie on your back with your arms extended out to the sides. Bend your knees and let them fall to one side, keeping your shoulders on the ground. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch sides.
  • Hip circles: Stand with your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart. Rotate your hips in a circular motion, completing 10 circles in each direction.
  • Hamstring stretch: Stand tall and place your right heel on an elevated surface, like a step or a low stool. Keep your right leg straight and gently hinge forward from your hips, feeling the stretch along the back of your right thigh. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch legs.
  • Ankle rolls: While standing, lift one foot off the ground and rotate your ankle in a circular motion. Do 10 rolls in each direction, then switch feet.

It’s going to be tempting to exit this circuit early or rush through the movements. We’re aware that Slack pings can take on a certain siren’s call in the morning. You want to get things moving.

But try to lean into the process and appreciate that just a few concerted minutes will set you up for at least the next few hours. It’s a jumpstart for your posture and a positive attitude. If done right, you can attack your first tasks of the day feeling limber and refreshed.

If seven moves still feel a little daunting, start your first morning with neck rolls, then add an additional exercise each day. That’s habit-forming at its incremental best. Remember that while the morning is critical, keeping stiffness at bay is an all-day affair. Throughout the workday, make sure to take move-around breaks every 30 minutes or so, prioritize a lunchtime constitutional, and auto-regulate your exercise scheme if you’re feeling too sore. (Trainer-speak for don’t do a hard workout later on if you’re not feeling it.)

If you manage to master the light morning workout above, consider lengthening or modulating it with moves like the McGill Crunch, side plank holds, activated bird dogs, glute bridge holds, and bar hands.

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