Are you starting to feel the side effects of prolonged sitting? Flexibility is one of the most important fitness factors. And yet, many of us exclude elasticity exercises from our workout, opting for muscle-building or weight-loss options instead.

Since we will be staying safely indoors until further notice, it’s worth taking this time to focus on exercises that you may normally miss, such as those that increase flexibility. When stuck at home, it’s natural to be more sedentary, but this can lead to restricted joint mobility and muscular imbalances. So if you suffer from sore, stiff muscles, have difficulty moving without moaning, can’t touch your toes, or simply feel fatigued, this is your body’s way of alerting you it needs to loosen up.

We could all benefit from a daily, positive goal right now, as well as motivation to keep moving. Over the next month, we will commit to a 30-day flexibility challenge to enhance muscle plasticity and range of motion. Each day you will have one to two exercises to do at the end of your current cardio and strength training routine.

We will start with a safe, easy sequence that initiates the process of lengthening the muscles, engaging the joints, releasing tight tissue, perking up your posture, and boosting your body’s ability to function without pain. Move slowly and thoughtfully through each exercise, repeating the two movements three times in total. For support, perform these exercises on a yoga mat, carpet, or soft surface.

Monday + Wednesday

Cat Cow:

  • Begin in a tabletop position with shoulders stacked over hands and hips over knees.

  • Take a deep breath in. Arch your back so your spine forms an upside down “U” and pull your chin into your chest. On the exhale, allow your spine to sag into a “U” shape and shift your gaze up toward the ceiling. Repeat 10 times.

Child’s Pose:

  • Begin in a tabletop position with shoulders stacked over hands and hips over knees.

  • Hinge back at your hips and try to sit on your heels. Extend your arms fully in front of your body, with your head resting between your arms. If you have difficulty sitting back fully, spread your knees wider apart. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Tuesday + Thursday

Cobra:

  • Start on your stomach with your hands positioned beneath your shoulders.

  • Take a deep breath in as you push through your hands to lift your torso off the floor. Hold for two counts then lower your chest back down to the floor. Repeat 8 times.

Wings:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms out to your sides so they are elevated at shoulder height.

  • Take a deep breath in, pull your arms back, puff your chest out, and squeeze your shoulder blades. Exhale fully as you bring your arms together in front of your body and round your back. Repeat 10 times.

Friday + Saturday

Butterfly:

  • Sit with your spine straight and shoulders back. If you need further back support, practice this move against a wall.

  • Pull the bottoms of your feet together to form wings with your legs. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Supine Lumbar Flexion:

  • Start on your back, bending at your knees so your feet are on the floor.

  • Carefully lift your legs and wrap your hands behind your thighs to pull your knees in toward your chest. Do not apply a lot of pressure to your legs, and be mindful not to tighten your shoulders and neck. Rather, keep your muscles relaxed as you hold. For a light lower-back massage, gently rock back and forth against the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Sunday

Glute Bridge:

  • From a supine position, bend your knees, keep your feet flat on the floor, and extend your arms out to your sides for support.

  • Push through your heels to elevate your hips. All of your body weight will remain in your heels as you squeeze your glutes and hold for 10 counts. Repeat 8 times.

Supine Hip Stretch:

  • Start on your back, bending at your knees so your feet are on the floor.

  • Pull your left knee in toward your chest and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. If hip flexibility permits, extend your right leg straight, hovering slightly off the floor. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach in South Jersey. To learn more about her virtual training program, go to ashleyblakefitness.com.