While getting regular vigorous exercise in your routine has significant health benefits, most of us have days where we don’t have the energy to do much at all.
When this is the case, it’s important to listen to our bodies.
Self-care and rest is crucial in order to manage stress and recover from intense forms of training, sometimes our mental health just needs a doona day.
These days should be enjoyed for what they are and indulged in occasionally, so you can hit your normal training schedule with more energy and enthusiasm, but did you know there are also some exercises that you can do from the comfort of the doona that will positively influence your health and wellbeing?
Let’s explore 7 exercises you can do without even leaving the bed!
Breath work is commonly known for its positive effect on managing stress. It can also help manage anxiety and even boost your immunity. There are many different breathwork techniques that you can easily do from bed and a few minutes a day will leave you feeling fantastic.
Try this simple technique, known as box breathing;
- Set a timer for 2 minutes
- Lie down and relax
- Breath in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, breath out for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four.
- Repeat until your timer goes off.
Flexibility training is an important part of your exercise regime, and completing stretches in bed can feel amazing. Try this little static stretch sequence, holding each stretch for 20-30secs:
- Overhead reach – stretch out with your arms above your head and point your toes. Imagine the full body lengthening.
- Tricep stretch – Extend your right arm above your head, then bend at the elbow to bring the right palm toward the centre of your back. Use your left hand to gently push your elbow in toward the centre and down. Do the same on the other side.
- Knees to chest stretch – Bring both of your knees in towards your chest, hug them in towards you and imagine your lower back flattening onto the bed.
- Glute stretch – With your knees bent and feet flat on the bed, put the outside of your right ankle on your left knee and gently press your right knee away from the midline of your body. Repeat on the other side.
Similar to breathwork, meditation has many health benefits in areas such as managing stress, anxiety and emotional wellbeing. Mediation has also been shown to have a positive impact on blood pressure, both immediately after a session and ongoing in regular meditators.
There are many guided options available on Youtube, or apps such as Calm or Headspace are a great place to start if you need assistance in developing a regular meditation practice.
Doing core exercises is a great option from the comfort of your bed. Try this easy core combo:
- 20 ab crunches
- 20 bicycles
- 20 back extensions
- Complete 3 rounds of this combo, with a 20 second break between rounds
Pelvic floor work
The area between your hips is a complex network of muscles and tissues that form a sling-like structure to support our reproductive organs, lower bowels and bladder. With age, after pregnancy or childbirth or weight gain, our pelvic floor can become weakened. This can impact continence, sexual function or lead to more serious health consequences such a prolapse.
Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor muscles, but you need to ensure you are activating the right muscles, rather than the bigger more global abdominal muscles. The easiest way to know you have it right is to stop urinating mid flow and take notice of that sensation. If you are unsure, please consult a physiotherapist or gynaecologist as incorrect activation can have detrimental effects.
If you are confident you have got the right muscles, start your daily kegel routine by contracting the pelvic floor for 3 seconds, then release for 3. Over time build to a 10 second contraction and do 3 sets of 10 every day.
Mind muscle connection
Prolonged periods of sitting in our day can lead to our posterior chain muscles becoming weak. This can impact posture, and also our ability to activate muscles during training sessions. By using your time in bed to consciously connect mind to posterior muscles, you will positively influence your form and technique next time you train.
An easy way to do this is through a glute bridge. Lie in bed with your knees bent and your feet flat on the bed. Slowly start to peel your spine from the bed by pushing through the heels and squeezing the glutes.
Continue this until you have made a bridge between your hips and shoulders. Then do this movement in reverse, starting from the shoulders down to the tailbone. Repeat 5-10 times.
This will not only help your mind muscle connection, but will also feel great through the spine and support improved mobility.
Self pleasure should not be considered taboo and should be encouraged as a completely safe, effective and enjoyable way to explore one’s self and sexuality.
In addition to those benefits, a self pleasure practice can also support better sleep, reduce stress and positively impact self esteem and body image. So stay under the doona and show yourself some love!
Kate Kraschnefski head of compliance and training at the Australian Institute of Fitness, and is also a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and nutrition coach. She has been in the fitness industry since 2004 and has a Bachelor of Applied Science, Certificate III and IV in Fitness, and a Diploma of Training Design and Development.