Exercising in bed is an efficient way to get in your recommended dose of physical activity if you’ve got an especially demanding schedule or are tight on time.
It’s recommended that the average adult engages in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. The ten exercises listed in this article alone won’t meet these recommendations, but they’re great supplements to other activities like brisk walking, cycling, and jogging.
Static stretches to do in bed
Stretching helps warm up your muscles for more intense workouts and improves overall flexibility. There are many static stretches you can do while lying down in bed, and they’re a great way to wake yourself up in the morning.
Hold each stretch for the duration of three to four deep breaths:
- overhead stretch
- knees-to-chest stretch
- upper back stretch
- hamstring stretch
The overhead stretch involves extending your arms over your head and pointing or flexing your toes. You should feel this stretch throughout the entirety of your body.
The glute muscles and lower back are the main focus areas of the knees-to-chest stretch. While lying down, bring both of your knees to a bent position. Bring one knee in toward your chest and hold it there and keep the other knee as it is. Hold the stretch before switching knees. You can also bring both knees in toward your chest at the same time.
To do the upper back stretch, clasp your hands together and stretch your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Tilt your head downwards slightly so that you can round your back a little. This stretch is especially useful if you have tight shoulders.
The final stretch focuses on lengthening the hamstring, which is the muscle that runs down the back of your thigh. Take hold of one of your legs and pull it toward you, straightening it as much as you can while the other leg remains flat or bent on the bed. Hold the stretch before switching legs.
Dynamic exercises to do in bed
Dynamic exercises involve repeating simple movements that work certain areas of your body. You may have to sit up in bed for some of these exercises, but they don’t require any equipment and are easy to do:
Knee rolls work your lower back. Start by taking the knees-to-chest stretch position with both legs before stretching your arms out to the side. Slowly roll your knees from one side to the other, keeping them together and your shoulders down on the bed. Repeat this movement for the duration of three to four deep breaths.
To get in position for trunk rotations, sit on the edge of your bed with your feet parallel to one another and set your shoulders and back in a relaxed position. Clasp your hands together and rotate just your upper body to one side as far as is comfortable, then all the way back to the other side. Repeat the movement six to eight times on each side—you should feel your back releasing any stiffness.
You should be on your back for the bridges exercise. Start by bending your knees so that your feet are flat and use your glute and leg muscles to raise your pelvis off the bed, pushing both legs evenly. Hold your pelvis for five seconds at an elevated height before slowly lowering yourself and repeating the movement.
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Core exercises to do in bed
Core exercises are crucial because core muscle strength has a ripple effect on how well the rest of your body works. Weak core muscles can make your arms and legs work less effectively. In contrast, a strong core ensures that your movements are more balanced, stable, and powerful, whether you’re going for a run or carrying home the groceries.
You can transfer these popular core exercises from the floor to the bed when you want to get in a little extra activity:
- stomach crunches
Extend your arms underneath your shoulders to get into a push-up position. Your palms should be flat and your knees should be raised off the bed. Bend your arms at your elbows and lower your chest until it’s five centimeters off the bed or until your elbows have reached a 90-degree angle. Push back up and repeat 12 to 15 times.
You can also adjust the initial push-up position so that your knees are resting on the floor to make the movement slightly easier—this is known as a three-quarter push-up.
The plank targets your lower back muscles in addition to your core muscles. Lie on your stomach and push yourself up onto your forearms by contracting your abdomen. Keep your legs straight and your hips raised so that your body forms a straight line from head to toe. Hold the plank for five to ten seconds and repeat the pose eight to ten times. You can keep your knees on the bed for an easier version.
It’s important to tuck your neck to your chest and move slowly when doing stomach crunches. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart. Cross your arms over your chest and curl your upper body toward your knees until your shoulders are three inches off the bed. Hold the position for a few seconds and move back down before repeating this motion 12 more times.
Medically Reviewed on 11/1/2021
Harvard Health: “The real-world benefits of strengthening your core.”
NHS: “Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64”; “5-minute wake-up workout”; “10-minute abs workout”; “10-minute home toning workout.”
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust: “Physiotherapy Bed Exercises.”