Exercise isn’t just about burning calories and building strength. It’s also about improving productivity and quality of life. But when is the best time to exercise? The answer is whenever it best fits into your schedule. One problem with afternoon or evening workouts is that they are often put off by other conflicting responsibilities. In addition, if you exercise too late in the day, it can be hard to “wind down” and fall asleep.
Early morning can be a great time to get some exercise in as long as it doesn’t make you late for the rest of your day. As a spine surgeon I have to be “ready to go” with a high energy level by 6 a.m. This doesn’t leave time for a lengthy morning workout so we at MDFitness came up with a 5-minute workout that you can do right out of bed without disrupting your morning routine. In the time it takes to brew your coffee you can have your metabolism revved up to full throttle and ready for whatever the day throws at you. It works for me and I know it will work for you. We use the same easy-to-follow exercises you will find in our DVD The Doctors Workout.
Here are some of the benefits you will see with this program:
Jog in Place (30 seconds)
We will begin with jogging in place. This is a great way to start our warm-up. While you are getting the cob-webs out of your head your arms and legs are starting to get more blood flowing. We are also lubricating all the major joints so they won’t stiffen up later.
You should feel your heart rate starting to come up and your breathing start to quicken. Keep your arms nice and relaxed and stay on the balls of your feet.
Cat Kicks (30 seconds)
Start by raising up one leg while rounding the back and reaching forward bringing the arms together. Now repeat the move on the other side. If you can touch your foot, that’s great. If not, just raise the leg as much as feels comfortable.
This exercise is dynamically stretching the hamstrings and back muscles at the same time. It is what we call a compound exercise that works several muscle groups at once.
High Knees (30 seconds)
We are going to rev things up now with high knees. This move will really get your heart pounding. If you are just starting to exercise do the move like a march rather than a hop. As you progress you can start to bring the foot off the ground as you go from side to side.
Leg exercises like this are great for boosting the metabolism. The leg muscles are much bigger than the arm muscles so they generate more energy and heat.
Squats (30 seconds)
Next we will move on to leg squats with forward arm raise. With your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward, bend the hips and knees like you are sitting down while raising both arms up to shoulder height. In the beginning you may want to go part way down but as you advance you will be able to squat to a full 90 degrees. This is another super compound exercise that works the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles all at the same time.
Jump Rope (30 seconds)
Pretend you have a jump rope in your hands and try to coordinate your arms and legs to mimic the motion you would use with the rope. Stay on the balls of your feet with the knees slightly bent. Beginners can start at a slower pace and speed up as they improve their strength and endurance. This is one of the best lower-impact cardio exercises, but you can increase the challenge and impact by moving into a bigger jump.
Lunges (30 seconds)
Begin by stepping forward with the right foot, then bending both knees while keeping your weight over the back knee. Come back up and alternate sides. Try not to touch the floor or mat with the back knee. As in all of these exercises, you can adapt the move to your fitness level or flexibility. Whether you go part way or all the way down your quads and hamstrings are still working hard. This will keep the heart rate up, too.
Skaters (30 seconds)
Like the name implies, we are hopping sideways back and forth from leg to leg while swinging the arms mimicking the motion of skating. Beginners should step from side to side while more advanced exercisers should hop or jump. The hips and knees should remain slightly bent. This keeps the muscles under tension and increases the value of the exercise. Muscle tone and balance are important benefits from skaters.
Bicycle Crunches (30 seconds)
Begin lying on your back with both hips and knees flexed 90 degrees. Keep your hands lightly on the sides of your head while lifting the head and shoulder blades slightly off the floor. Extend one leg out while bringing the opposite knee in toward your shoulder, twisting toward that knee with your upper body. Continuously alternate sides.
The bicycle crunch has been scientifically proven to be the best ab exercise there is!
Push-Ups (30 seconds)
Now roll over for everyone’s favorite exercise: push-ups. Beginners should keep the knees on the mat. Try to do between 12 and 15 repetitions if you can. As you can see, this exercise requires a fair amount of upper body strength. If you can’t do the full 15, just do as many as you can. If you can’t go all the way down then just go part way.
Remember, the exercises we hate the most often do us the most good!
Jumping Jacks (30 seconds)
Back on your feet for the final exercise, which needs no explanation as everyone has seen or done it at some time in his or her life.
It’s a fantastic compound exercise working the shoulders and hips. It targets the inner and out thigh muscles, which are hard to strengthen.
Congratulations! You have just Jump started your metabolism. As you start to cool down and get ready for you day, the health effects of the program will continue for hours. Remember, this should not prevent you from doing your regular exercise program. It is just an added bonus. Don’t forget to check out “The Doctors Workout" DVD for more ideas.
Starting a workout routine is always difficult. Staying with it is equally challenging. At MDFitness we firmly believe that there is a benefit to any exercise program no matter how short. Try this easy-to-follow 5-minute routine and you will feel amazing. As you start to see the fantastic results you may want to think about adding a longer workout to your schedule 3-4 times a week.
About the Author
Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD, is nationally-renowned orthopedic surgeon and founder of the New Hampshire Neurospine Institute. With the help of his wife Anne, he has become dedicated to the use of exercise and good nutrition as a means of maintaining quality of life during the aging process. Now 66, he is a cancer survivor who found the benefits of exercise instrumental in his own recovery. Along with his wife Anne, a registered nurse and certified fitness professional, he has launched MDfitness: The Doctor's Workout on DVD—an easy to follow exercise program designed for people over 40.