Sometimes, we just can’t help our busy schedules. Work, groceries, paying bills, and other responsibilities tend to occupy our spare time and often our resolution to get fit and make it to the gym falls by the wayside.
Fortunately, there are ways you can fit a quick and easy workout routine into your schedule without much effort. If you have a pre-existing habit that lends itself well to including a few squats or lunges, you’re already way ahead of the game.
Take, for instance, brushing your teeth. It’s estimated that the average person spends 38.5 days over the course of their lifetime standing in their bathroom brushing their teeth. Dental professionals generally recommend adults brush for at LEAST 2 minutes or more per session, and this is the perfect time to include some quick and easy exercises if you’re unable to make it to the gym. Just by including a small rotation of exercises while you scrub those pearly whites, you can strengthen and improve both your upper and lower body and practice focus and multitasking.
Lower Body Workouts
Lunges are one of the best exercises for toning your lower body and a perfect fitness move to incorporate into your teeth-brushing ritual. They also help stretch any tight or stiff muscles that may result from poor or restless sleep and, when performed properly, work wonders for stretching out your back.
How-To: Step forward with one foot and then bend your leg into a 90-degree angle so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and your knee is positioned right above your ankle (knee shouldn’t go past toes). Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and repeat with the other leg.
Squats are another way to improve your lower body strength while brushing your teeth. This type of exercise is extremely beneficial for improving/increasing circulation, increasing strength in your knee joints, and activating and strengthening your core in addition to toning legs and butt.
How-To: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes facing forward. Keep your head and your chest up and slowly transfer your weight to your heels as you bend your knees and “sit” back (your knees should not extend past your toes). Hold for 5 seconds and then rise by pressing with your heels and slowly straightening to the start position.
Standing Calf Raise
The standing calf raise is another beneficial exercise that you can do anywhere. Like the squats and lunges, calf raises use your body weight to strengthen and stretch muscles. In addition to strengthening the lower leg, calf raises also improve ankle strength and balance. Generally performed on the edge of a step, calf raises can also be done on the floor.
How-To: If using a step, stand tall on its edge, keeping your abdominals pulled in and the balls of your feet firmly planted. Shift your weight to the balls of your feet so that you are standing on your tiptoes and your heels are lifted a few inches above the floor or the edge of the step. Hold for several counts and then lower yourself back down. If you’re using a step-stool, continue the exercise by lowering your heels below the surface of the platform, making sure you’re pressing evenly throughout the balls of your feet and stretching your calves.
Wall-sitting is another great way to build up muscles in your upper legs, core, and glutes and takes pressure off of your back while doing so! In addition, a wall-sit also helps improve balance and focus, especially if you’re able to wall-sit for the duration of brushing your teeth.
How-To: Position yourself about two feet from a wall, and slowly sit back against it. Slide down to create a 90-degree angle with your knees and hold, making sure your knees don’t go past your toes.
Single Leg Balance
This last move can seem ridiculous in its simplicity, but a single leg balance actually requires a lot of stability and strength. When done properly, it engages the core, your feet, your ankles, your legs, and your hips. It can also help improve focus and develops concentration.
How-To: Begin by standing with feet hip-width apart. Hinge gently forward from the torso, lifting your right leg off the ground and extending it behind you, making sure you’re not rounding your back. Keep your legs slightly bent and reach for your left foot with your right hand as your free foot extends behind you. Repeat with your left foot.
Upper Body Workouts
Single-Arm Overhead Presses
It’s also quite simple to improve upper body strength while you’re brushing your teeth, and overhead presses are a perfect way to tone your arms. Your shoulders and arms are used to press weight over your head while your abs, legs, and lower back are used to balance. This is one of the best exercises for toning and maintaining healthy, strong shoulders and arms as well as activating and strengthening your core. It will also help with your ambidexterity by adding the challenge of brushing with your non-dominant hand.
How-To: Stand firmly planted with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hold a dumbbell just outside your shoulder with your arm bent and your palm facing inward. Brace your core and press the weight over your head until your arm is completely straight and your bicep rests near your ear (your shoulder should stay down). Lower dumbbell back to starting position and repeat.
Standing Single-Arm Bicep Curls
One of the best methods for developing muscles in the arms, bicep curls are easy-peasy to include in your teeth-brushing routine. This exercise develops the bicep, the tricep, and the shoulder.
How-To: Stand straight and hold a dumbbell in your hand at arm’s length. Keeping upper arm stationary, exhale and curl the weight up towards your shoulder while contracting your bicep. Inhale as you lower the dumbbell back down. Repeat several times on one side and then switch.
Horizontal Lateral Raise
This exercise strengthens the weakest parts of your shoulder and helps improve your stabilizing muscles and rotator cuff.
How-To: Stand straight, and hold a dumbbell at arm’s length. Feet should be shoulder-width apart and palms should be facing your body. With a slight bend in your elbow, raise your extended arm to the side, lifting until it is level with your shoulder. Keep shoulders straight (not leaning forwards or backwards) and never raise the weight above your shoulder. Hold briefly and then lower the weight back down to starting position. Repeat the same number of reps on each side.
- Try alternating the exercises you do every day. Focus on lunges one day of the week, squats the next, and so on. By targeting different areas of your body every day, you can make sure you’re working out ALL muscles groups.
- Once you’ve set an exercise goal for the morning/evening, see if you can beat your previous day’s number.
- In addition to lunges and squats, make sure you include some stretches in your routine as well, perhaps while you’re preparing your toothbrush or afterwards while you rinse the sink. Simple stretches like a hamstring or quad stretch, or even a brief forward fold, can also help improve flexibility and prevent injury or simply wake your body for the day.
- On top of sneaking in a few exercises, brushing your teeth is also a great time to expand your mind. Playing a few minutes of a podcast or audiobook can help keep you focused and optimize your time.
While these exercises aren’t recommended as an exclusive replacement for gym-time or a brisk walk outside every now and then, they do make it easier to improve your health and begin a healthy habit that will drive your other healthful choices forward. A little exercise is better than none, and taking 2-3 minutes out of your day to improve strength and focus will only help in the long run, even if it’s while you brush your teeth.
Don’t forget that your dental health is very important, too! Contact us to schedule an appointment with our dental professionals.