How to Exercise on Your Way to Work
Skip the gym? Feeling like you need an extra pick-me-up? On your way to work, don’t just sit there without engaging your muscles. Instead, take the time to strengthen your core — and plenty of other muscles in your body — for an added workout bonus.
The average American spends an hour getting to and from work. So why not make the most of that commute?
Whether you take the subway, drive a car, ride a bus, train, or walk, there are plenty of ways to engage your core so you’ll reach a six-pack in no time. Research shows that sitting can kill you, even if you regularly exercise. Studies have shown that sedentary activities can increase chances of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. In fact, sitting is the fourth-leading risk factor of death for people around the world.
While core exercises on the way to work may not increase your cardiovascular system, there’s no doubt that strengthening core muscles will help improve balance, make it easier to do physical activities and improve stability.
The biggest misconception about gaining abdominals is that ab crunches are the only way to get strong abdominal muscles, which isn’t true. We’ve rounded up some tips for a core-building commute that will help you reach your fitness goals in no time.
1. Drawing in
Tightening your stomach throughout the day is actually proven to considerably strengthen your core. There is a simple exercise called “drawing in” that can help you get abs throughout any point of the day. All you have to do is tighten and relax your stomach muscles to build strength and stamina. While doing this, tuck your hips under so your back isn’t arched. It doesn’t have to be noticeable but is great for when you’re commuting to work or sitting at your desk. Breathe heavily and deeply, expanding your chest, all while keeping your core activated. Drawing in can also help reduce back pain, increase posture and improve coordination and balance.
Do this exercise all the time, not just on your morning commute. You’ll be surprised how many benefits you get from this exercise.
2. Seated pelvic tilts
Modified from the standing pelvic tilt, pull your navel back into your spine and press your hips forward. There should be little movement in the legs and you should act as if you’re trying to tuck an invisible tail between your legs. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat as many times as you’d like.
3. Arm presses
This is only if you drive a car, or take a taxi. Squeeze your abs while you provide resistance to your core by pressing your hands (or one hand) into the roof of your car. Squeeze your arm muscles to work on your triceps and biceps. Hold this for 15 seconds and repeat several times if you are stopped at a light. Drive extremely safe as you do this exercise. You can alternate each hand if you don’t have 30 seconds to spare at the light.
Personal trainer, Jeff Daubs, says that pressing up with the arms and shoulders while squeezing the core creates a “static hold that serves to strengthen the arms, shoulders, back, and core all at the same time.”
4. Commuter crunch
Equinox fitness trainer, Lacey Stone, reveals what she calls the “Classic Commuter Crunch.” It can be done on a bus, train or plane, or in a car if someone else is driving.
“Keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed, contract the lower abdominal muscles,” Stone said to The Daily Beast. “Hold the lower abdominal contraction and engage your upper abs. Gently round the lower back and move your ribcage down toward your hips. Hold the contraction for 8 to 10 seconds, breathing normally, and return to a neutral sitting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times or until muscle fatigue.”
5. Seated spinal twist
If you are on a subway, train, plane or in a taxi, this is the perfect exercise. This is also great if you’re waiting at a doctor or dentist’s office. Not only does it look like you’re stretching (if people even care to look at you), but it also works your obliques. Sit up tall and place your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core muscles and twist your torso to the right, placing both hands on the arm of the chair or seat (or the back of the chair or seat) for support. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, all while keeping your core extremely engaged. Don’t forget to breathe! Switch sides and twist your torso to the other side. You’ll activate your obliques and get a nice stretch in your back.