Despite my love of all things fitness (and working in the field for a living), I'm not exactly a model student when it comes to stretching. It's not that I don't see the value in it or enjoy it when I actually take the time to roll out the mat and touch my toes, it's more that I find myself so pressed for time that I convince myself to use every bit of my allotted exercise time to something more dynamic — say running, cycling, or weight training.
But like many, I've learned to adjust my schedule these days. Thanks to a shortened commute time from my bedroom to my kitchen for both my cup of coffee and first meeting of the day, I've reclaimed a few extra minutes in the morning. Admittedly, I had been hitting the snooze button for a few solid weeks, but recently, I've used my extra time to actually start stretching.
I may not be doing a full-on yoga sequence at the crack of dawn, but I am tossing on my cozy UA Meridian Joggers ($75) for a few quick mobility exercises like the World's Greatest Stretch and Crouching Tiger, interspersed with some Sun Salutations and Down Dogs. Even these few movements have made all the difference — most surprisingly, with my ability to stay focused. Here's how.
I'm immediately less tense
I may work out frequently and consider myself fairly strong, but I'm not immune to tech neck and the tense, tightness that comes from a desk job. However, I've found that starting my morning with a few movements has helped relieve some of the stiffness that comes from working on a laptop all day. Because I'm starting my day feeling loose and relaxed, I get distracted by surprise discomfort throughout the day, thus allowing me to power through my work much easier. (Although it's still a good idea to stretch throughout the day!)
I'm energized even precoffee
Usually it takes at least 30 minutes of my favorite online Barry's Bootcamp class, a walk around the block, or a cup of coffee for me to feel ready to take on my email inbox. But just getting my body awake and my muscles feeling more flexible in a few minutes immediately puts a pep in my step that I didn't have before. Sure, touching my toes doesn't quite give me the same calorie burn and endorphin release as a three-mile neighborhood jog, but it's a quick way to wake me up, so I'm less groggy from the start. I've found this has led me to feel stronger during workouts and has made it easier to roll into my first work meeting.
I'm starting the day off accomplished
It may not seem like much, but during a time when each day can kind of seem like the day before, earning a sense of accomplishment has been a big motivator for me. And if I can get that accomplished feeling first thing in the morning, I'm more likely to carry that eagerness and positivity over into my work. If I'm enthusiastic after treating my body right, I'm enthusiastic to fuel my mind and make the rest of my day the best it can be.