Save Time—Exercise in the Shower

Between work, family and general life happenings, it’s hard enough to find time to relax — much less make it to the gym. But fitness experts say that some exercise really is better than none and that logging even a few minutes of sweat time each day can actually decrease your appetite, increase your energy and, perhaps most important, keep you from falling off the wagon altogether.

“Studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more consistent, more successful and more committed to their fitness for the long haul,” says Ariane Hundt, personal trainer and founder of Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp. “The people taking my morning classes have been doing it for years. The people who wait until the end of the day get sidetracked and distracted by work obligations and attend less regularly.”

So how do you squeeze in a workout when time is at a premium? Rather than telling yourself you’ll make up for lost time another day (which gets increasingly harder each day you wait), Hundt suggests incorporating a short routine into the one block of time you have semi-free: During your morning shower and when you’re getting ready for the day.  

“With the right safety measures in place, there are actually several moves you can do while you’re showering to tighten and tone key muscle groups,” Hundt says. And since you probably shower every day, by designating that time as your mini-exercise time, you’re automatically building in at least a few minutes of guaranteed movement each day. “That little bit of exercise has a big impact. You’ll feel less hungry all day and will have more energy,” she says. “And long-term, you’ll be building a solid muscle foundation.”  

For your next morning workout, Hundt recommends four simple moves that are low-intensity (which you’ll appreciate first thing in the morning), equipment-free and don’t require a ton of space.

Safety note: Before doing any exercises in the shower, first make sure you have a non-skid surface to stand on for comfortable, steady footing. And keep the water at a lukewarm temperature to avoid overheating. If you can't do these safely, return to dry land for your workout.  

Two Exercises For the Shower

Ab Contractions

At any point during your shower, tense your ab muscles and pull your navel in tight (be careful that you’re not just sucking your stomach in—you should feel your muscles working, Hundt says). Hold that position firmly for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times. “You’re getting pure contractions, which really challenge and work your abs,” explains Hundt.

Squats

If you know you can do this safely, Hundt suggests sitting in a squat position for about 20 seconds. Start with feet shoulder-width apart and squat, putting pressure on your heels, until your legs form a 90-degree angle. Hang onto the shower door or rail for stability and safety. “Squats work everything from your calves to your hamstrings to your quads and all throughout your core,” says Hundt. “And holding even for a few seconds will elevate your heart rate, so you start burning calories early.”

But Don't Stop There

You can keep your workout going post-shower by adding in exercises while you finish getting ready.

After the Shower: Wall Pushups

These can really strengthen and define your arm muscles, says Hundt. Place your hands against the wall at eye level, shoulder-length apart, arms bent. Back your feet out until you’re leaning on the wall. From there, push back out until you’re in firm standing position again. Repeat the pushup motion 20 times. “These are much lower impact than traditional push-ups, so they’re easier to do, but they still firm your chest, biceps and triceps,” she says.

While Drying/Styling Hair: Calf Raises

Start with your feet flat on the floor and parallel to one another. Slowly raise your heels up until you’re standing on the balls of your feet then slowly come back down. Repeat 30 times. “Muscles in both your upper and lower legs contract as you lift your heels off the ground,” says Hundt. “It’s a great way to firm up the calves and define the back side of your thighs.”

And…you’re done! By the end of your morning session, you’ve already worked all of your major muscle groups and you haven’t even had your morning coffee yet. Just remember as you’re doing the exercises, Hundt says to focus not on speed, but the quality of your muscle movements.

“The key is that you slow down to point that you really feel those muscles move and engage,” says Hundt. “With just five minutes a day, you’re already at 35 minutes a week. Over time you’ll start chipping away at body fat, building muscle mass and seeing lasting long-term results.”