When you can’t squeeze in any exercise earlier in the day, a bedtime workout routine may be calling your name.
But doesn’t working out before bed give you a burst of energy, making a good night’s sleep hard to come by? That used to be the belief, but new research suggests otherwise.
A review published in the journal Sports Medicine in February 2019 found that the claim that exercise before bed negatively affects sleep is not supported. In fact, the opposite is true in many cases.
The exception to these findings was vigorous exercise less than 1 hour before bed, which can affect total sleep time and how long it takes to fall asleep.
In other words, exercise that doesn’t raise your adrenaline too much could be a great addition to your nighttime routine.
So, what type of workout should you do before bed? A few low-impact moves, plus some full body stretches, will be just the type of activity your body needs before you hit the hay.
We’ve picked five moves that are perfect for a bedtime exercise routine. Start with the exercises as we’ve indicated here, and end with the stretches.
Do 3 sets of each exercise, and then move on to the next one. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to a minute — whatever feels good to you — and then get ready for some Zzz’s.
One of the best full-body exercises, a plank requires a strong core above all. Although your heart rate may increase mid-plank, focus on your breathing to gain some restorative benefits as well.
- Get into a plank position on either your forearms or your hands. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels, meaning your lower back and hips aren’t sagging. Roll your shoulders down and back and keep your gaze on your fingers.
- Hold here, focusing on your breathing and maintaining that straight line, for 30 seconds to a minute.
2. Glute bridge
Another low-impact option, the glute bridge targets your core and glutes to help strengthen your posterior chain (all those muscles on the back of your body). Move slowly and with control to reap all the benefits.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be down at your sides.
- Inhale and begin to lift your hips, pushing through your heels, squeezing your glutes and core. At the top, your body should form a straight line from upper back to knees.
- Pause for 1–2 seconds at the top, and then return to the starting position.
- Complete 10–15 reps.
An exercise in stability and core strength, the bird-dog is deceptively challenging. The real focus is on maintaining a stable back, particularly your lower back, throughout the movement. Another important factor? Don’t rush!
- Start on all fours, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, with a straight back and neutral neck. Roll your shoulders down and back and engage your core.
- Begin to straighten and raise your left leg and right arm at the same time, keeping your hips and shoulders square to the floor. Keep your head in a neutral position and stop when your limbs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 2–3 seconds, focusing on your stability.
- Slowly return to the starting position, and then raise your right leg and left arm in the same way. This is 1 rep.
- Complete 10 reps.
4. Child’s Pose
This stretch provides a great release to your lower back and hips, which can hold quite a bit of tension, especially if you sit all day. As you inhale and exhale, think about sinking lower into the stretch.
- Kneel on the floor with your feet under your bottom. Widen your knees.
- Inhale and fold forward, allowing your torso to fall between your thighs and extending your arms overhead. Place your palms on the floor.
- Breathe slowly and deeply here for 30–60 seconds, letting your hips sink lower as you fold deeper forward.
Another stretch for your hips, glutes, and lower back, the figure-4 is a great way to end this gentle routine. You can also do this move while standing on one leg — either way, you’ll feel good afterward.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee and pull back on your left hamstring, feeling a stretch in your right hip. Hold here for 30 seconds.
- Release, and then repeat on the other side.
Exercise before bed can be a wonderful way to signal to your body that it’s time for some shut-eye. Stick with low-impact moves to help you build strength (without driving up your adrenaline!) and you’ll be on your way to sweet dreams.